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The  Wonderful 
Adventures  of  Nils 



Price,  net,  $2.50 





Translated  by 

story  of  Nils,  the  bad 
boy  who  turned  into  a  tiny 
elf,  and  01  his  adventures 
in  animal-land,  has  become 
a  real  fairy  classic.  A  series 
of  beautiful  color  drawings 
have  now  been  made  for  it 
by  Miss  Frye.  Her  pictures 
of  Nils  are  very  quaintly 
dra\vn  and  the  fairy  story 
takes  on  new  realism  in 
her  delightful  interpretation 
of  it. 

Seldom  has  such  intricate  weaving  and 
interweaving  of  fact  and  fancy,  history 
and  tradition,  fairy  lore  and  nature  craft, 
been  accomplished  so  deftly  .  .  ,  the 
style  is  simple  and  natural,  the  story 
whimsical  and  rich  in  delicate  humor. 
-  New  York  Sun. 

Selma  Lagerlof  is  the  greatest  imagina- 
tive genius  in  modern  literature.  Few  men 
or  women  in  the  world  have  ever  had  the 
right  to  write  fairy  stories,  but  Selma 
Laserlot  is  one  of  them. 

— New  York  American. 

Illustrated  by 
Mary  Hamilton  Frye 


3333  0811  5  2379 




1  adventures 



By  Selma  Lager/of 


(Trans,  from  Swedish  by  Velma  Steanston  Howard) 


(Trans,  from  Swedish  by  Velma  Swanston  Howard) 


(Trans,  from  Swedish  by  Velma  Swanston  Howard) 


(Trans,  from  Swedish  by  Velma  Swanston  Howard) 


(Trans,  from  Swedish  by  Felma  Swanston  Howard) 


(Trans,  from  Swedish  by  Velma  Swanston  Howard) 


(Trans,  from  Swedish  by  Pauline  Bancroft  Flach) 


(Trans,  from  Swedish  by  Pauline  Bancroft  Flach) 


(Trans,  from  Swedish  by  Velma  Swanston  Howard) 

THE  HOLY  CITY,  Jerusalem  II 

(Trans,  from  Swedish  by  Velma  Swanston  Howard) 


(Trans,  from  Swedish  by  Jessie  Brochner) 


(Trans,  from  Swedish  by  Pauline  Bancroft  Flach} 


(Trans,  from  Swedish  by  Anna  Harwell) 


(Trans,  from  Swedish  by  W.  Woriter,  M.  A.) 


(Trans,  from  Swedish  by  Vilma  Swanston  Howard) 


(Trans,  from  Swedish  by  Arthur  G.  Chaler) 


(Trans,  from  Swedish  by  Velma  Swanston  Howard} 

Ss'n 'rf-ii  U-5 

"HE    GRABBED    THE    BOY    AND    TOSSED    HIM    .    .        INTO    THE   AIR" 









Junior  Books 


PRINTED  AT  THE  Country  Life  Press,  GARDEN  CITY,  N.  Y.,  u.  s.  A. 



3*,    IF.*  JX    AMD 



COPYRIGHT,    I9O7,    1913 




"THE  Wonderful  Adventures  of  Nils"  was  written  for  use 
in  schools  as  "supplementary  reading,"  with  the  special 
idea  of  introducing  such  subjects  as  would  be  educative  as 
well  as  entertaining  to  the  minds  of  children  from  the  ages 
of  nine  to  eleven.  The  book  has  been  adopted  in  the  public 
schools  of  Sweden,  but  older  people  have  found  in  it  a  book 
of  permanent  value. 

In  so  far  as  possible,  the  translator  has  faithfully  inter- 
preted the  author's  local  and  idiomatic  expressions. 




I.    THE  BOY       3 

The  Elf 

The  Wild  Geese 

The  Big  Checked  Cloth 




The  Goose-Chase 

III.  THE  WONDERFUL  JOURNEY  OF  NILS    ....      45 

On  the  Farm 


In  Ovid  Cloister-Park 


Black  Rats  and  Gray  Rats 
The  Stork 

h       '""•>>    y  V:*':1, 
V.    THE  GREA'T'  CRANE  DANCE  ON  KULLABERG       .      85 

VI.  IN  RAINY  Wiufr^teE. 97 

VII.  THE  STAIRWAY;  WITH  TH^J  THREE  STEPS  .     .     .  105 




•  • 

XI.    OLAND'S  SOUTHERN  POINT       139 






The  Storm 
The  Sheep 
Hell's  Hole 

XIV.  Two  CITIES        169 

The  City  at  the  Bottom  of  the  Sea 
The  Living  City 


XVI.    THE  CROWS 191 

The  Earthen  Crock 
Kidnapped  by  Crows 
The  Cabin 


XVIII.    FROM  TABERG  TO  HUSKVARNA     .     .     .     .     .     .    226 


Jarro,  the  Wild  Duck 
The  Decoy-Duck 
The  Lowering  of  the  Lake 
XX.     ULVASA-LADY 250 

(The  Prophecy) 

XXI.     THE  HOMESPUN  CEUTH'  v    J-^V  *•;**;   •     •    •    •    257 
GLOSSARY       .    .    .   -» :  .;/*;;.;,..    .....    262 

«  » «  "  *':ii'  *,,"     "; 


"HE  GRABBED  THE  BOY  AND  TOSSED  HIM     .    .    .     INTO 

THE  AIR" Frontismece 



"  'SHUT  UP,  YOU  PACK!' " 12 

'"I  DON'T  WANT  TO  BE  HUMAN,'  SAID  HE"  ...  68 
"'SEALS!  SEALS!  SEALS!*  CRIED  AKKA"  .  .154 


CARRY  ME  ON  HIS  BACK?' "      .  .  .200 

"'YES,  THAT  WOULD  BE  SOME  HELP,'  SATO  THE  COW"     .      218 





THIS  book,  which  is  the  latest  work  of  Sweden's  greatest 
fiction  writer,  was  published  in  Stockholm,  December,  1906. 
It  became  immediately  the  most  popular  book  of  the  year  in 

In  1902  the  author  received  a  commission  from  the 
National  Teachers'  Association  to  write  a  reader  for  the 
public  schools. 

She  devoted  three  years  to  Nature  study  and  to  familiar- 
izing herself  with  animal  and  bird  life.  She  has  sought  out 
hitherto  unpublished  folklore  and  legends  of  the  different 
provinces.  These  she  has  ingeniously  woven  into  her  story. 

The  book  has  been  translated  into  German  and  Danish, 
and  the  book  reviewers  of  Germany  and  Denmark,*  as  well 
as  those  of  Sweden,  are  unanimous  in  proclaiming  this 
Selma  Lagerlof 's  best  work. 

One  reviewer  has  said:  "Since  the  days  of  Hans  Chris- 
tian Andersen  we  have  had  nothing  in  Scandinavian  juve- 
nile literature  to  compare  with  this  remarkable  book." 
Another  reviewer  wrote:  "Miss  Lagerlof  has  the  keen 
insight  into  animal  psychology  of  a  Rudyard  Kipling.' 

Stockholm's  Dagblad  said  among  other  things:  "The 
great  author  stands  as  it  were  in  the  background.  The 
prophetess  is  forgotten  for  the  voices  that  speak  through 
her.  It  is  as  though  the  book  had  sprung  direct  from  the 
soul  of  the  Swedish  nation." 

*Note:  "The  Wonderful  Adventures  of  Nils"  has  since  been  translated  into  French, 
Dutch,  Russian,  and  Finnish,  etc. 


Sydsvenska  Dagbladet  writes:  'The  significant  thing 
about  this  book  is :  while  one  follows  with  breathless  interest 
the  shifting  scenes  and  adventures,  one  learns  many  things 
without  being  conscious  of  it.  ...  The  author's 
imagination  unfolds  an  almost  inexhaustible  wealth  in 
invention  of  new  and  ever-changing  adventures,  told  in 
such  a  convincing  way  that  we  almost  believe  them.  .  .  . 
As  amusement  reading  for  the  young,  this  book  is  a  decided 
acquisition.  The  intimate  blending  of  fiction  and  fact  is 
so  subtle  that  one  finds  it  hard  to  distinguish  where  one  ends 
and  the  other  begins.  It  is  a  classic.  ...  A  master- 

From  Gefle  Posten:  'The  author  is  here  —  as  always, 
the  great  story-teller,  the  greatest,  perhaps,  in  Scandinavian 
literature  since  the  days  of  Hans  Christian  Andersen.  To 
children  whose  imaginations  have  been  fostered  by  Ash- 
bjornsen,  Andersen,  and  'A  Thousand  Nights  and  One,' 
'The  Adventures  of  Nils'  will  always  be  precious,  as  well 
as  to  those  of  us  who  are  older." 

From  G'oteborg  Posten:  "Selma  Lagerlof  has  given  us  a 
good  lift  onward.  She  is  the  one  whom  we,  in  these  days, 
place  first  and  foremost.  .  .  .  Among  the  other  work 
which  she  has  done  for  us,  and  for  our  children,  she  has 
recreated  our  geography.  Upon  Imagination's  road  she 
has  sought  to  open  the  child-heart  to  an  understanding  of 
animals,  while  tactfully  and  playfully  dropping  into  little 
knowledge-thirsty  minds  a  comprehensive  understanding 
of  the  habits  and  characteristics  of  different  animals.  She 
carries  us  with  her  .  .  .  and  shapes  for  us  —  old  and 
young  —  a  new  childhood  in  tune  with  the  thought  of  our 
time.  What  does  she  not  touch  upon  in  this  wonderful 
book?  ...  As  Mowgliy  who  had  the  key  to  all  the 


languages  of  the  Jungle,  once  found  his  way  to  all  his  little 
brother  and  sister  hearts  in  the  great  civilized  world,  so 
shall  the  Thumbietot  of  Swedish  fairyland  lead  many  little 
thirsting  child-souls  not  only  on  the  highways  of  adventure, 
but  also  upon  the  road  of  seriousness  and  learning." 

Another  critic  says:  "Beyond  all  doubt,  '  The  Wonderful 
Adventures  of  Nils'  is  one  of  the  most  noteworthy  books 
ever  published  in  our  language.  I  take  it,  that  no  other 
nation  has  a  book  of  this  sort.  One  can  make  this  or  that 
comment  on  one  and  another  phase  of  it,  but  as  a  whole 
it  impresses  one  as  being  so  masterful,  so  great,  and  so 
Swedish,  that  one  lays  the  book  down  with  a  sense  of 
gratitude  for  the  privilege  of  reading  such  a  thing.  There  is 
a  deep  undercurrent  of  Swedish  earnestness  all  through 
this  tale  of  Nils.  It  belongs  to  us.  It  is  a  part  of  us." 

Ny  Tid  writes:  "Selma  Lagerlof's  book  contains  just 
as  much  information  —  no,  twice  as  much  as  the  old 
readers.  It  acquaints  the  children  with  Sweden's  nature; 
interests  them  in  its  bird  world,  both  tame  and  wild; 
in  its  domestic  and  forest  animals,  even  in  its  rats.  It 
explains  its  vegetation,  its  soil,  its  mountain-formations, 
its  climatic  conditions.  It  gives  you  customs,  superstitions, 
and  the  folklore  in  different  sections  of  the  country.  It 
takes  in  farming  industry,  manors  and  factories,  cities  and 
peasant-cabins,  and  even  dog-kennels.  It  has  a  word  for 
everything;  an  interest  in  and  for  everything.  For,  mark 
you,  this  book  has  not  been  patched  together  by  the  dilet- 
tante, or  by  a  school  board  committee.  ...  It  was 
written  by  a  highly  gifted,  warm-hearted  seer,  to  whom  the 
child-nature  is  not  a  murky  pool  in  which  to  fish  at  random, 
but  a  clear,  reflecting  mirror.  The  author  has  fulfilled  her 
mission  in  a  wholly  convincing  manner.  She  has  had 


enough  imagination  and  skill  to  blend  all  the  dry  travel  and 
nature  material  into  the  harmonious  beauty  of  fable.  She 
knew  how  to  combine  the  useful  with  the  beautiful,  as  no 
pedant  of  the  practical  or  the  sesthetic  has  ever  dreamed  it. 
She  has  converted  the  absorption  of  knowledge  into  a  child's 
game  -  -  a  pleasure.  Her  style  throughout  is  the  simplest, 
the  most  facile  for  children  to  grasp.  .  .  .  Her  ut- 
terances are  hearty  without  being  boisterous;  most  playful 
and  humorous  without  being  loquacious.  Her  work  is  a 
model  text-book;  and  just,  therefore,  a  finished  work 
of  art." 

From  Goteborg  Morgan  Posten:  "The  fame  of  her  lit- 
erary greatness  goes  forward  without  a  dissenting  voice;  it 
fills  her  own  land,  and  travels  far  and  wide  outside  its 
borders.  .  .  .  Just  as  modestly  as  she  points  a  moral, 
just  so  delicately  and  unobtrusively  does  she  give  in- 
formation. Everything  comes  to  you  through  the  ad- 
ventures, or  through  the  concrete  images  of  imagination's 
all-compelling  form.  .  .  .  No  one  who  has  retained  a 
particle  of  his  child  mind  can  escape  the  genuine  witchery 
of  the  poesy  in  'Nils." 

A  new  history  of  literature,  entitled  "Frauen  der  Gegen- 
wart,"  by  Dr.  Theodore  Klaiber,  mentions  Miss  Lagerlof 
as  the  foremost  woman  writer  of  our  time,  and  says  that 
she  is  receiving  the  same  affectionate  homage  for  her  art  in 
other  lands  that  has  been  accorded  her  in  Sweden.  Dr. 
Klaiber  does  not  see  in  her  merely  "a  dreaming  poetess  far 
removed  from  the  world."  He  finds  her  too  forceful  and 
courageous  for  this. 

"But  she  sees  life  with  other  eyes  than  do  our  up-to-date 
people.  All  her  world  becomes  saga  and  legend.  .  .  . 
More  than  all  other  modern  authors,  she  has  that  all- 



embracing  love  for  every  thing  which  never  wanes  and  never 
wearies,"  says  Dr.  Klaiber. 

Torsten  Fagelqvist,  a  well-known  Swedish  writer,  ends 
his  review  of  the  book  with  these  remarks:  "Our  guide  is 
clear- visioned,  many-sided,  and  maternal.  She  can  speak 
all  languages:  the  language  of  animals,  and  the  language  of 
flowers;  but  first  and  last,  childhood's  language.  And  the 
best  of  all  is,  that  under  her  spell  all  are  compelled  to  become 



Comments  translated  from  Swedish  and  German. 




Sunday.,  March  twentieth. 

ONCE  there  was  a  boy.  He  was,  let  us  say,  something 
like  fourteen  years  old;  long  and  loose  jointed  and 
towheaded.  He  wasn't  good  for  much,  that  boy.  His  chief 
delight  was  to  eat  and  sleep,  and  after  that  he  liked  best  to 
make  mischief. 

It  was  a  Sunday  morning  and  the  boy's  parents  were 
getting  ready  for  church.  The  boy,  in  his  shirt  sleeves, 
sat  on  the  edge  of  the  table  thinking  how  lucky  it  was  that 
both  father  and  mother  were  going  away  so  the  coast  would 
be  clear  for  a  couple  of  hours.  "Good!  Now  I  can  take 
down  pop's  gun  and  fire  off  a  shot,  without  anybody's 
meddling  interference,"  he  said  to  himself. 

But  it  was  almost  as  if  father  should  have  guessed  the 
boy's  thoughts,  for  just  as  he  was  on  the  threshold  and  ready 
to  start,  he  stopped  short,  and  turned  toward  the  boy: 
"Since  you  won't  come  to  church  with  mother  and  me," 
he  said,  "the  least  you  can  do  is  to  read  the  service  at  home. 
Will  you  promise  to  do  so?"  'Yes,  that  I  can  do  easy 
enough,"  said  the  boy,  thinking,  of  course,  that  he  wouldn't 
read  any  more  than  he  felt  like  reading. 

The  boy  thought  that  never  had  he  seen  his  mother  get 
around  so  fast.  In  a  jiffy  she  was  over  by  the  book  shelf, 



near  the  fireplace,  taking  down  Luther's  Commentary,  which 
she  laid  upon  the  table,  in  front  of  the  window  —  opened  at 
the  service  for  the  day.  She  also  opened  the  New  Tes- 
tament, and  placed  it  beside  the  Commentary.  Finally, 
she  drew  up  the  big  armchair,  which  was  bought  at  the 
parish  auction  the  year  before,  and  which,  as  a  rule,  no  one 
but  father  was  permitted  to  occupy. 

The  boy  sat  there  thinking  that  his  mother  was  giving 
herself  altogether  too  much  trouble  with  this  spread,  for  he 
had  no  intention  of  reading  more  than  a  page  or  so.  But 
now,  for  the  second  time,  it  was  almost  as  if  his  father  were 
able  to  see  right  through  him.  He  walked  up  to  the  boy, 
and  said  in  a  severe  tone:  "Now  remember  that  you  are 
to  read  carefully !  For  when  we  come  back,  I  shall  question 
you  thoroughly;  and  if  you  have  skipped  a  single  page,  it 
will  not  go  well  with  you." 

'The  service  is  fourteen  pages  and  a  half  long,"  said  his 
mother,  piling  it  on,  as  it  were.  'You'll  have  to  sit  down 
and  begin  the  reading  at  once,  if  you  expect  to  get  through 
with  it." 

With  that  they  departed.  And  as  the  boy  stood  in  the 
doorway,  watching  them,  he  felt  that  he  had  been  caught  in 
a  trap.  'There  they  go  congratulating  themselves,  I 
suppose,  in  the  belief  that  they've  hit  upon  something  so 
good  that  I'll  be  forced  to  sit  and  hang  over  the  sermon  the 
whole  time  that  they  are  away,"  thought  he. 

But  his  father  and  mother  were  certainly  not  congratulat- 
ing themselves  upon  anything  of  the  sort;  but,  on  the  con- 
trary, they  were  very  much  distressed.  They  were  poor 
farmers,  and  their  place  was  not  much  bigger  than  a  garden- 
plot.  When  they  first  moved  there,  the  bit  of  land  couldn't 
feed  more  than  one  p^g  and  a  pair  of  chickens;  but  they 


were  uncommonly  thrifty  and  capable  folk  —  and  now  they 
had  both  cows  and  geese.  Things  had  turned  out  very  well 
for  them ;  and  they  would  have  gone  to  church  that  beautiful 
morning  satisfied  and  happy,  if  they  hadn't  had  their  son 
to  think  of.  Father  complained  that  he  was  dull  and  lazy; 
he  had  not  cared  to  learn  anything  at  school,  and  he  was 
such  an  all-around  good-for-nothing  that  he  could  barely 
be  made  to  tend  geese.  Mother  could  not  deny  that  this 
was  true;  but  she  was  most  distressed  because  he  was  wild 
and  bad:  cruel  to  animals,  and  ill-willed  toward  human 
beings.  "May  God  soften  his  hard  heart  and  give  him  a 
better  disposition!"  said  the  mother,  "else  he  will  be  a  mis- 
fortune, both  to  himself  and  to  us." 

The  boy  stood  there  a  long  time  pondering  whether  he 
should  read  the  service  or  not.  Finally,  he  came  to  the 
conclusion  that  this  time  it  was  best  to  be  obedient.  He. 
seated  himself  in  the  easy  chair,  and  began  to  read.  But 
when  he  had  been  rattling  away  in  an  undertone  for  a  little 
while,  this  mumbling  seemed  to  have  a  soothing  effect  upon 
him  —  and  he  began  to  nod. 

It  was  the  most  beautiful  weather  outside!  It  was  only 
the  twentieth  of  March;  but  the  boy  lived  in  West  Vem- 
menhog  Parish,  down  in  Southern  Skane,  where  the  spring 
was  already  in  full  swing.  It  was  not  as  yet  green,  but 
fresh  and  budding.  There  was  water  in  all  the  trenches, 
and  the  colt's-foot  at  the  edge  of  the  ditch  was  in  bloom. 
All  the  weeds  that  grew  in  among  the  stones  were  brown 
and  shiny.  The  beech-woods  in  the  distance  seemed  to 
swell  and  grow  thicker  with  every  second.  The  skies  were 
high,  and  a  clear  blue.  The  cottage  door  stood  ajar,  and 
the  lark's  trill  could  be  heard  in  the  room.  The  hens  and 
geese  pattered  about  in  the  yard;  and  the  cows,  who  felt 


the  spring  air  away  in  their  stalls,  lowed  their  approval 
every  now  and  then. 

The  boy  read  and  nodded  and  fought  against  drowsiness. 
"No!  I  don't  want  to  fall  asleep,"  thought  he,  "for  then 
I'll  not  get  through  with  this  thing  the  whole  forenoon." 

But  somehow  he  fell  asleep. 

He  did  not  know  whether  he  had  slept  a  short  while  or 
a  long  while;  but  he  was  awakened  by  hearing  a  slight  noise 
back  of  him. 

On  the  window-sill,  facing  the  boy,  stood  a  smarl  looking- 
glass;  and  almost  the  entire  cottage  could  be  seen  in  it. 
As  the  boy  raised  his  head,  he  happened  to  look  in  the  glass; 
and  then  he  saw  that  the  cover  to  his  mother's  chest  had 
been  opened. 

His  mother  owned  a  great,  heavy,  iron-bound  oak  chest, 
which  she  permitted  no  one  but  herself  to  open.  Here  she 
treasured  all  the  things  she  had  inherited  from  her  mother, 
and  of  these  she  was  especially  careful.  Here  lay  a  couple 
of  old-time  peasant  dresses,  of  red  homespun  with  short 
bodice  and  plaited  skirt,  and  a  pearl-bedecked  breast- 
pin. There  were  starched  white  linen  headdresses,  and 
heavy  silver  ornaments  and  chains.  Folks  don't  care  to 
go  about  dressed  like  that  in  these  days,  and  several  times 
his  mother  had  thought  of  getting  rid  of  the  old  things;  but 
somehow,  she  hadn't  the  heart  to  do  it. 

Now  the  boy  saw  distinctly  —  in  the  glass  —  that  the 
chest-lid  was  open.  He  could  not  understand  how  this 
had  happened,  for  his  mother  had  closed  the  chest  before 
she  went.  She  never  would  have  left  that  precious  chest 
open  with  only  him  here. 

He  became  low-spirited  and  apprehensive.  He  was  afraid 
that  a  thief  had  sneaked  his  way  into  the  cottage.  He 


didn't  dare  move,  but  sat  still  and  stared  into  the  looking- 

While  he  sat  there  and  waited  for  the  thief  to  make  his 
appearance,  he  began  to  wonder  what  that  dark  shadow  was 
which  fell  across  the  edge  of  the  chest.  He  stared  and 
stared  and  wouldn't  believe  his  eyes.  But  the  object, 
which  at  first  seemed  shadowy,  became  more  and  more 
clear  to  him;  and  soon  he  saw  that  it  was  something  real. 
It  was  nothing  less  than  an  elf  that  sat  there  —  astride 
the  edge  of  the  chest! 

To  be  sure,  the  boy  had  heard  stories  about  elves,  but 
he  had  never  dreamed  that  they  were  such  tiny  creatures. 
He  was  no  taller  than  a  hand's  breadth  —  this  one,  who  sat 
on  the  edge  of  the  chest.  He  had  an  old,  wrinkled  and 
beardless  face,  and  was  dressed  in  a  black  frock  coat, 
knee-breeches  and  a  broad-brimmed  black  hat.  He  was 
very  trim  and  smart,  with  his  white  laces  at  the  throat  and 
wrist-bands,  his  buckled  shoes,  and  the  bows  on  his  garters. 
He  had  taken  from  the  chest  an  embroidered  piece,  and 
sat  gazing  at  the  old-fashioned  handiwork  with  such  an  air 
of  veneration  that  he  did  not  observe  the  boy  had  awakened. 

The  boy  was  somewhat  surprised  to  see  the  elf,  but,  on  the 
other  hand,  he  was  not  exactly  frightened.  It  was  im- 
possible to  be  afraid  of  one  who  was  so  little.  And  since 
the  elf  was  so  absorbed  in  his  own  thoughts  that  he  neither 
saw  nor  heard,  the  boy  thought  that  it  would  be  great  fun 
to  play  a  trick  on  him ;  to  push  him  over  into  the  chest  and 
shut  the  lid  on  him,  or  something  of  that  kind. 

Yet  the  boy  was  not  so  courageous  that  he  dared  touch 
the  elf  with  his  hands,  instead  he  glanced  around  the  room 
for  something  to  poke  him  with.  He  let  his  gaze  wander 
from  the  sofa  to  the  leaf -table;  from  the  leaf -table  to  the 


fireplace.  He  glanced  at  the  kettles,  then  at  the  coffee- 
urn,  which  stood  on  a  shelf,  near  the  fireplace;  on  the  water 
bucket,  near  the  door;  and  on  the  spoons  and  knives  and 
forks  and  saucers  and  plates,  which  could  be  seen  through 
the  half-open  cupboard  door.  He  looked  up  at  his  father's 
gun,  which  hung  on  the  wall  beside  the  portrait  of  the 
Danish  royal  family,  and  at  the  geraniums  and  fuchsias, 
which  blossomed  in  the  window.  And  last,  he  caught 
sight  of  an  old  butterfly-snare  that  hung  on  the  window 
frame.  He  had  hardly  set  eyes  on  that  butterfly-snare, 
before  he  reached  over  and  snatched  it  and  jumped  up  and 
swung  it  alongside  the  edge  of  the  chest.  He  was  himself 
astonished  at  the  luck  he  had.  He  hardly  knew  how  he  had 
managed  it  —  but  he  had  actually  snared  the  elf.  The 
poor  little  chap  lay,  head  downward,  in  the  bottom  of  the 
long  snare,  and  could  not  free  himself. 

At  the  first  moment  the  boy  hadn't  the  least  idea  as  to 
what  he  should  do  with  his  catch;  but  he  was  very  careful  to 
swing  the  snare  backward  and  forward,  to  prevent  the  elf 
from  getting  a  foothold  and  clambering  up. 

The  elf  began  to  speak,  and  begged,  oh !  so  pitifully,  for 
his  freedom.  He  had  brought  them  good  luck  these  many 
years,  he  said,  and  deserved  better  treatment.  Now,  if  the 
boy  would  set  him  free,  he  would  give  him  an  old  penny,  a 
silver  spoon,  and  a  gold  coin,  as  big  as  the  case  on  his 
father's  silver  watch. 

The  boy  didn't  think  that  this  was  much  of  an  offer;  but 
it  so  happened  that  after  he  had  got  the  elf  into  his  power, 
he  was  afraid  of  him.  He  felt  that  he  had  entered  into  an 
agreement  with  something  weird  and  uncanny,  something 
which  did  not  belong  to  his  world;  and  he  was  only  too 
glad  to  rid  himself  of  the  horrid  creature. 




For  this  reason  he  agreed  at  once  to  the  bargain,  and  held 
the  snare  still,  so  the  elf  could  crawl  out  of  it.  But  when  the 
elf  was  almost  out  of  the  snare,  the  boy  happened  to  think 
that  he  should  have  bargained  for  large  estates,  and  all 
sorts  of  good  things.  He  should  at  least  have  made  this 
stipulation:  that  the  elf  conjure  the  sermon  into  his  head. 
"  What  a  fcol  I  was  to  let  him  go ! "  thought  he,  and  began  to 
shake  the  snare  violently,  so  the  elf  would  tumble  down  again. 

But  the  instant  the  boy  did  that  he  received  such  a  sting- 
ing box  on  the  ear  that  he  thought  his  head  would  fly  in 
pieces.  He  was  dashed  -  -  first  against  one  wall,  then 
against  the  other;  finally  he  sank  to  the  floor,  and  lay  there 
—  senseless. 

When  he  awoke  he  was  alone  in  the  cottage.  There  was 
not  a  sign  of  the  elf!  The  chest-lid  was  down,  and  the 
butterfly-snare  hung  in  its  usual  place  by  the  window.  If 
he  had  not  felt  how  the  right  cheek  burned  from  that  box 
on  the  ear,  he  would  have  been  tempted  to  believe  the  whole 
thing  a  dream.  "At  any  rate,  father  and  mother  will  be 
sure  to  insist  that  it  was  nothing  else,"  thought  he.  'They 
are  not  likely  to  make  any  allowances  for  that  old  sermon, 
on  the  elf's  account.  It's  best  for  me  to  get  at  that  reading 
again,"  thought  he. 

But  as  he  walked  toward  the  table,  he  noticed  something 
remarkable.  It  couldn't  be  possible  that  the  cottage  had 
grown.  But  why  did  he  have  to  take  so  many  more  steps 
than  usual  to  get  to  the  table?  And  what  was  wrong  with 
the  chair?  It  looked  no  bigger  than  it  did  a  while  ago;  but 
now  he  had  to  step  on  the  rung  first,  and  then  clamber  up  in 
order  to  reach  the  seat.  It  was  the  same  with  the  table. 
He  could  not  look  across  the  top  without  climbing  to  the 
arm  of  the  chair. 


"  What  in  all  the  world  is  this?  "  said  the  boy.  " I  believe 
the  elf  has  bewitched  both  armchair  and  table  —  and  the 
whole  cottage." 

The  Commentary  lay  on  the  table  and,  to  all  appear- 
ances, it  was  not  changed;  but  there  must  have  been  some- 
thing queer  about  that  too,  for  he  could  not  manage  to 
read  a  single  word  of  it  without  actually  standing  right  in 
the  book  itself. 

He  read  a  couple  of  lines,  then  happened  to  look  up. 
With  that,  his  glance  fell  on  the  looking-glass;  and  then  he 
cried  aloud:  "Look!  There's  another  one !" 

For  in  the  glass  he  saw  plainly  a  little,  little  creature  who 
(was  dressed  in  a  hood  and  leather  breeches. 

"Why,  that  one  is  dressed  exactly  like  me!"  said  the  boy, 
clasping  his  hands  in  astonishment.  And  then  he  saw 
that  the  thing  in  the  mirror  did  the  same  thing.  There- 
upon, he  began  to  pull  his  hair  and  pinch  his  arms  and  swing 
round;  and  instantly  he  did  the  same  thing  after  him;  he, 
who  was  seen  in  the  mirror. 

The  boy  ran  around  the  glass  several  times,  to  see  if 
here  wasn't  a  little  man  hidden  behind  it,  but  he  found  no 
one  there;  and  then  he  began  to  shake  with  terror.  For  now 
he  understood  that  the  elf  had  bewitched  him,  and  that  the 
creature  whose  image  he  saw  in  the  glass  was  —  himself. 


THE  boy  simply  could  not  make  himself  believe  that  he 
had  been  transformed  into  an  eh5.  "It  can't  be  anything 
but  a  dream  -  -  a  queer  fancy,"  thought  he.  "If  I  wait  a 
few  moments,  I'll  surely  be  turned  back  into  a  human 


He  placed  himself  before  the  glass  and  closed  his  eyes. 
He  opened  them  again  after  a  couple  of  minutes,  expecting 
to  find  that  it  had  all  passed  over  —  but  it  hadn't.  He  was 

—  and  remained  —  just  as  little.     In  other  respects,  he 
was  the  same  as  before.     The  thin,  straw-coloured  hair; 
the  freckles  across  his  nose;  the  patches  on  his  leather 
breeches   and   the   darns   on   his   stockings  were  all   like 
themselves,  with  this  difference;  they  had  become  dimin- 

No,  it  would  do  him  no  good  to  stand  still  and  wait, 
of  that  he  was  certain.  He  must  try  something  else.  And 
he  thought  the  wisest  thing  that  he  could  do  was  to  try  to 
find  the  elf,  and  make  his  peace  with  him. 

He  jumped  to  the  floor  and  began  to  search.  He  looked 
behind  chairs  and  cupboards;  under  the  sofa  and  in  the 
oven,  and  he  even  crawled  down  into  a  couple  of  ratholes 

—  but  he  simply  couldn't  find  the  elf. 

And  while  he  sought,  he  cried  and  prayed  and  promised 
everything  he  could  think  of.  Nevermore  would  he  break 
his  word  to  any  one ;  never  again  would  he  be  naughty ;  and 
never,  never  would  he  fall  asleep  any  more  over  the  sermon. 
If  he  might  only  be  a  human  being  once  more,  he  would  be 
such  a  good  and  helpful  and  obedient  boy.  But  no  matter 
how  much  he  promised,  it  did  not  help  him  the  least  little 

Suddenly  he  remembered  that  he  had  heard  his  mother 
say,  all  the  tiny  folk  made  their  home  in  the  cowshed;  and, 
at  once,  he  decided  to  go  there,  to  see  if  he  couldn't  find 
the  elf.  It  was  a  lucky  thing  that  the  cottage-door  stood 
partly  open,  for  he  never  could  have  reached  the  bolt  and 
opened  it;  but  now  he  slipped  through  without  difficulty. 

When  he  came  out  into  the  hallway,  he  looked  around  for 


his  wooden  shoes;  for  in  the  house  to  be  sure,  he  had  gone 
about  in  his  stocking  feet.  He  wondered  how  he  should 
ever  manage  with  these  big,  clumsy  wooden  shoes;  but  just 
then,  he  happened  to  see  a  pair  of  tiny  shoes  on  the  door- 
step. When  he  observed  that  the  elf  had  been  so  thought- 
ful as  to  bewitch  even  the  wooden  shoes,  he  was  more 
troubled  than  ever.  It  was  evidently  the  elf's  meaning 
that  this  affliction  should  last  a  long  time. 

On  the  old  plank-walk  in  front  of  the  cottage,  hopped  a 
gray  sparrow.  It  had  hardly  set  eyes  on  the  boy  before  it 
called  out:  'Teetee!  Teetee!  Look  at  Nils  goosey- 
boy!  Look  at  Thumbietot!  Look  at  Nils  Holgersson 

Instantly  the  geese  and  the  chickens  turned  and  stared 
at  the  boy;  and  then  they  set  up  a  fearful  cackling. 
" Cock-el-i-coo,"  crowed  the  rooster,  "good  enough  for  him! 
Cock-el-i-coo,  he  has  pulled  my  comb."  "Ka,  ka,  kada, 
jerves  him  right!"  cried  the  hens;  and  with  that  they  kept 
up  a  continuous  cackle.  The  geese  got  together  in  a  tight 
group,  stuck  their  heads  together  and  asked:  'Who  can 
have  done  this?  Who  can  have  done  this?" 

But  the  strangest  of  all  was,  that  the  boy  understood  what 
they  said.  He  was  so  astonished  that  he  stood  there  as  if 
rooted  to  the  doorstep,  and  listened.  "It  must  be  because 
I  am  turned  into  an  elf,"  said  he.  "This  is  probably  why 
I  understand  bird-talk." 

He  thought  it  unbearable  that  the  hens  would  not  stop 
saying  that  it  served  him  right.  He  threw  a  stone  at  them 
and  shouted:  "Shut  up,  you  pack!" 

But  it  hadn't  occurred  to  him  before  that  he  was  no  longer 
the  sort  of  boy  the  hens  need  fear.  The  whole  henyard 
made  a  rush  at  him,  and  formed  a  ring  around  him;  then 






they  all  cried  at  once:     "Ka,  ka,  kada,  served  you  right! 
Ka,  ka,  kada,  served  you  right !'! 

The  boy  tried  to  get  away,  but  the  chickens  ran  after 
him  and  screamed  until  he  thought  he'd  lose  his  hearing. 
It  is  more  than  likely  that  he  never  could  have  got  away 
from  them  if  the  house  cat  hadn't  come  along  just  then. 
As  soon  as  the  chickens  saw  the  cat,  they  quieted  down  and 
pretended  to  be  thinking  of  nothing  else  than  just  to 
scratch  in  the  earth  for  worms. 

Immediately  the  boy  ran  up  to  the  cat.  'You  dear 
pussy ! "  he  said,  "you  must  know  all  the  corners  and  hiding- 
places  hereabout?  You'll  be  a  good  little  kitty  and  tell 
me  where  I  can  find  the  elf." 

The  cat  did  not  reply  at  once.  He  sat  down  leisurely, 
curled  his  tail  into  a  graceful  ring  around  his  paws  —  and 
stared  at  the  boy.  It  was  a  large  black  cat  with  one  white 
spot  on  the  chest.  His  fur  lay  sleek  and  soft,  and  shone  in 
the  sunlight.  The  claws  were  drawn  in,  and  the  eyes  were 
a  dull  gray,  with  just  a  little  narrow  dark  streak  down  the 
centre.  The  cat  looked  thoroughly  good-natured  and  in- 

"I  know  well  enough  where  the  elf  lives,"  he  said  in  a 
soft  voice,  "but  that  doesn't  say  that  I'm  going  to  tell  you 
about  it." 

"Dear  pussy,  you  must  tell  me  where  the  elf  lives!" 
pleaded  the  boy.  "Can't  you  see  how  he  has  bewitched 

The  cat  opened  his  eyes  a  little,  so  that  the  green  wicked- 
ness began  to  shine  forth.  He  spun  round  and  purred  with 
satisfaction  before  he  replied.  "Shall  I  perhaps  help  you 
because  you  have  so  often  grabbed  me  by  the  tail?"  he  said 
at  last. 


Then  the  boy  was  furious  and  forgot  entirely  how  little 
and  helpless  he  was  now.  "Oh!  I  can  pull  your  tail  again, 
I  can,"  said  he,  and  ran  toward  the  cat. 

The  next  instant  the  cat  was  so  changed  that  the  boy 
could  scarcely  believe  it  was  the  same  animal.  Every  sepa- 
rate hair  on  his  body  stood  on  end.  The  back  was  bent;  the 
legs  had  become  elongated;  the  claws  scraped  the  ground; 
the  tail  had  grown  thick  and  short;  the  ears  were  laid  back; 
the  mouth  was  frothy;  the  eyes  were  wide  open  and  glis- 
tened like  sparks  of  red  fire. 

The  boy  didn't  want  to  let  himself  be  scared  by  a  cat  so  he 
took  a  step  forward.  Then  the  cat  made  one  spring  and 
landed  right  on  the  boy,  knocked  him  down  and  stood  over 
him  —  his  forepaws  on  his  chest,  his  jaws  wide  apart  over 
his  throat. 

The  boy  felt  how  the  sharp  claws  sank  through  his  vest 
and  shirt  into  his  skin;  and  how  the  sharp  eyeteeth  tickled 
his  throat.  He  shrieked  for  help  as  loudly  as  he  could,  but 
no  one  came.  He  thought  surely  that  his  last  hour  had 
come.  Then  he  felt  that  the  cat  drew  in  his  claws  and  let 
go  the  hold  on  his  throat. 

"There!"  he  said,  "that  will  do  for  now.  I'll  let  you  go 
this  time,  for  my  mistress's  sake.  I  only  wanted  you  to 
know  which  one  of  us  two  has  the  power  now." 

With  that  the  cat  walked  away,  looking  as  smooth  and 
pious  as  when  he  first  appeared  on  the  scene.  The  boy  was 
so  crestfallen  that  he  couldn't  say  a  word,  but  only  hurried 
to  the  cowhouse  to  look  for  the  elf. 

There  were  not  more  than  three  cows,  all  told.  But 
when  the  boy  came  in,  there  was  such  a  bellowing  and  such 
a  kick-up,  that  one  might  easily  have  believed  there  were  at 
least  thirty. 


"Moo,  moo,  moo,"  bellowed  Mayrose.  "It  is  well  there 
is  such  a  thing  as  justice  in  this  world." 

"Moo,  moo,  moo,"  sang  the  three  of  them  in  unison. 
He  couldn't  hear  what  they  said,  for  each  tried  to  out- 
bellow  the  others. 

The  boy  wanted  to  ask  after  the  elf,  but  he  couldn't  make 
himself  heard  because  the  cows  were  in  full  uproar.  They 
carried  on  as  they  used  to  when  he  would  let  a  strange  dog 
in  on  them.  They  kicked  with  their  hind  legs,  shook  their 
flanks,  stretched  their  heads,  and  measured  the  distance  with 
their  horns. 

"  Come  here,  you ! "  said  Mayrose,  "  and  you'll  get  a  kick 
that  you  won't  forget  in  a  hurry!" 

"Come  here,"  said  Gold  Lily,  "and  you  shall  dance  on 
my  horns!" 

"Come  here,  and  you  shall  taste  how  it  felt  when  you 
threw  your  wooden  shoes  at  me,  as  you  did  last  summer!" 
bawled  Star. 

"Come  here,  and  you  shall  be  repaid  for  that  wasp  you 
let  loose  in  my  ear!"  growled  Gold  Lily. 

Mayrose  was  the  oldest  and  wisest  among  them,  and  she 
was  the  very  maddest.  "Come  here!'"  she  said,  'that  I 
may  pay  you  back  for  the  many  times  that  you  have  jerked 
the  milk  pail  away  from  your  mother,  and  for  all  the  snares 
you  laid  for  her  when  she  came  carrying  the  milk  pails 
and  for  all  the  tears  which  she  has  stood  here  and  wept 
over  you!" 

The  boy  wanted  to  tell  them  how  much  he  regretted  that 
he  had  been  unkind  to  them;  and  that  never,  never,  from 
now  on,  should  he  be  anything  but  good,  if  they  would  only 
tell  him  where  the  elf  was.  But  the  cows  didn't  listen  to 
him.  They  made  such  a  racket  that  he  began  to  fear  one 


of  them  would  succeed  in  breaking  loose;  so  he  thought  that 
the  best  thing  for  him  to  do,  was  to  go  quietly  away  from 
the  cowhouse. 

When  he  came  out  again  he  was  thoroughly  disheartened. 
He  could  understand  that  no  one  on  the  place  wanted  to 
help  him  find  the  eh*.  And  little  good  would  it  do  him, 
probably,  if  the  elf  were  found! 

He  crawled  up  on  the  broad  hedge  which  fenced  in  the 
farm,  and  which  was  overgrown  with  brier  and  lichen. 
There  he  sat  down  to  ponder  how  it  would  go  with  him, 
were  he  never  again  to  become  a  human  being.  When  father 
and  mother  got  back  from  church,  there  would  be  a  surprise 
for  them.  Yes,  a  surprise  —  it  would  be  all  over  the  land ; 
and  people  would  come  flocking  from  East  Vemmenhog, 
and  from  Torp,  and  from  Skerup.  The  whole  Vemmenhog 
Parish  would  come  to  stare  at  him.  Perhaps  father  and 
mother  would  take  him  along  to  Kivik,  and  show  him  at 
the  market-place. 

No,  that  was  too  horrible  to  think  about.  He  would 
rather  that  no  human  being  should  ever  see  him  again. 

His  unhappiness  was  simply  frightful !  No  one  in  all  the 
world  was  so  unhappy  as  he.  He  was  no  longer  a  human 
being  —  but  a  freak. 

Little  by  little  he  began  to  comprehend  what  it  meant  — 
to  be  no  longer  human.  He  was  separated  from  everything 
now;  he  could  no  longer  play  with  other  boys,  he  could  not 
take  charge  of  the  farm  after  his  parents  were  gone;  and 
certainly  no  girl  would  think  of  marrying  him. 

He  sat  and  looked  at  his  home.  It  was  a  little  log  house, 
which  lay  as  if  crushed  down  to  earth,  under  the  high, 
sloping  roof.  The  outhouses  were  also  small;  and  the 
patches  of  tilled  ground  were  so  narrow  that  a  horse  could 


barely  turn  around  on  them.  But  little  and  poor  though 
the  place  was,  it  was  much  too  good  for  him  now.  He 
couldn't  hope  for  a  better  home  than  a  hole  under  the 
stable  floor. 

It  was  wondrously  beautiful  weather!  It  budded,  and 
it  rippled,  and  it  murmured,  and  it  twittered  —  all  around 
him.  But  he  sat  there  with  such  a  heavy  sorrow.  He 
should  never  be  happy  any  more  about  anything. 

Never  had  he  seen  the  skies  so  blue  as  they  were  to-day. 
Birds  of  passage  were  on  the  wing.  They  came  from  foreign 
lands,  having  travelled  over  the  Baltic  Sea  by  way  of 
Smygahuk,  and  were  now  on  their  way  north.  They  were 
of  many  different  kinds;  but  he  was  only  familiar  with  the 
wild  geese,  who  came  flying  in  two  long  lines,  which  met  at 
an  angle. 

Several  flocks  of  wild  geese  had  already  flown  by.  They 
flew  very  high,  still  he  could  hear  how  they  shrieked :  '  To 
the  hills !  Now  we're  off  to  the  hills ! " 

When  the  wild  geese  saw  the  tame  geese  who  walked 
about  the  farm,  they  sank  nearer  the  earth,  and  called: 
"  Come  along !  Come  along !  We're  off  to  the  hills ! " 

The  tame  geese  could  not  resist  the  temptation  to  raise 
their  heads  and  listen,  but  they  answered  very  sensibly: 
"  We're  pretty  well  off  where  we  are.  We're  pretty  well  off 
where  we  are." 

It  was,  as  said,  an  uncommonly  fine  day,  with  an 
atmosphere  that  it  must  have  been  a  real  delight  to 
fly  in,  so  light  and  bracing.  And  with  each  new  wild 
goose  flock  that  flew  by,  the  tame  geese  became  more 
and  more  excited.  A  couple  of  times  they  flapped  their 
wings,  as  if  they  had  half  a  mind  to  fly  along.  But  then 
an  old  mother-goose  would  always  say  to  them:  "Now 


don't  be  silly.  Those  creatures  will  have  to  suffer  both 
hunger  and  cold." 

There  was  a  young  gander  whom  the  wild  geese  had  fired 
with  a  passion  for  adventure.  "If  another  flock  comes  this 
way  I'll  follow  them,"  said  he. 

Then  there  came  a  new  flock,  shrieking  like  the  others, 
and  the  young  gander  answered:  'Wait  a  minute!  Wait 
a  minute!  I'm  coming." 

He  spread  his  wings  and  raised  himself  into  the  air;  but 
he  was  so  unaccustomed  to  flying  that  he  fell  to  the  ground 

At  all  events,  the  wild  geese  must  have  heard  his  call,  for 
they  turned  and  flew  back  slowly  to  see  if  he  was  coming. 

'  WTait,  wait!"  he  cried,  and  made  another  attempt  to  fly. 

All  this  the  boy  heard,  where  he  lay  on  the  hedge.  :'It 
would  be  a  great  pity,"  thought  he,  "if  the  big  goosey- 
gander  should  go  away.  It  would  be  a  big  loss  to  father 
and  mother  to  find  him  gone  on  their  return  from  church." 

As  he  thought  of  this,  once  again  he  entirely  forgot  that 
he  was  little  and  helpless.  He  took  one  leap  right  down  into 
the  goose-flock,  and  threw  his  arms  around  the  neck  of  the 
goosey-gander.  "Oh,  no!  You  don't  fly  away  this  time, 
sir!"  cried  he. 

But  just  about  then,  the  gander  was  considering  how  he 
should  go  to  work  to  raise  himself  from  the  ground.  He 
couldn't  stop  to  shake  the  boy  off,  hence  he  had  to  go  along 
with  him  —  up  in  the  air. 

They  bore  on  toward  the  heights  so  rapidly  that  the 
boy  fairly  gasped.  Before  he  had  time  to  think  that  he 
ought  to  let  go  his  hold  around  the  gander's  neck,  he  was  so 
high  up  that  he  would  have  been  instantly  killed,  had  he 
fallen  to  the  ground. 


The  only  thing  that  he  could  do  to  make  himself  a  little 
more  comfortable,  was  to  try  to  get  upon  the  gander's 
back.  And  there  he  wriggled  himself  forthwith;  but  not 
without  a  mighty  effort.  Nor  was  it  easy  to  hold  himself 
secure  on  the  slippery  back,  between  two  flapping  wings. 
He  had  to  dig  deep  into  feathers  and  down  with  both  hands, 
to  keep  from  tumbling  to  the  ground. 


THE  boy  had  grown  so  giddy  that  it  was  a  long  while 
before  he  came  to  himself.  The  winds  howled  and  lashed 
against  him,  and  the  rustle  of  feathers  and  beatings  of  wings 
sounded  like  a  full  storm.  Thirteen  geese  flew  around  him, 
flapping  their  wings  and  honking.  They  danced  before  his 
eyes  and  they  buzzed  in  his  ears.  He  didn't  know  whether 
they  flew  high  or  low,  or  in  which  direction  they  were  travel- 

After  a  bit,  he  regained  just  enough  sense  to  understand 
that  he  ought  to  find  out  where  the  geese  were  taking  him. 
But  this  was  not  so  easy,  for  he  didn't  know  how  he  should 
ever  muster  up  courage  enough  to  look  down.  He  was 
sure  he'd  faint  if  he  attempted  it. 

The  wild  geese  were  not  flying  very  high  because  the  new 
travelling  companion  could  not  breathe  in  the  very  thinnest 
air.  For  his  sake,  they  also  flew  a  little  slower  than  usual. 

At  last  the  boy  just  made  himself  cast  one  glance  down  to 
earth.  Then  he  fancied  that  a  great  big  rug  lay  spread 
beneath  him,  which  was  made  up  of  an  incredible  number 
of  large  and  small  checks. 

'Where  in  all  the  world  am  I  now?"  he  wondered. 

He   saw   nothing  but  check   upon   check.     Some   were 


broad  and  ran  crosswise,  and  some  were  long  and  narrow 
-  all  over  there  were  angles  and  corners.  Nothing  was 
round,  and  nothing  was  crooked. 

"What  kind  of  big,  checked  cloth  is  this,  that  I'm  looking 
down  on?"  said  the  boy  to  himself  without  expecting  any 
one  to  answer  him. 

But  instantly,  the  wild  geese  who  circled  around  him, 
called  out:  "Fields  and  meadows.  Fields  and  meadows." 

Then  he  understood  that  the  big,  checked  cloth  he  was 
travelling  over  was  the  flat  land  of  southern  Sweden;  and 
he  began  to  comprehend  why  it  looked  so  checked  and  multi- 
coloured. The  bright  green  checks  he  recognized  first,  they 
were  rye-fields  that  had  been  sown  in  the  fall,  and  had  kept 
themselves  green  under  the  winter  snows.  The  yellowish- 
gray  checks  were  stubble-fields  —  -  the  remains  of  the  oat- 
crop  which  had  grown  there  the  summer  before.  The 
brownish  ones  were  old  clover  meadows :  and  the  black  ones, 
deserted  grazing  lands  or  ploughed-up  fallow  pastures. 
The  brown  checks  with  the  yellow  edges  were  surely  beech- 
tree  forests;  for  in  these  you'll  find  the  big  trees  which  grow 
in  the  heart  of  the  forest,  naked  in  winter;  while  the  little 
beech-trees,  which  grow  along  the  borders,  keep  their  dry, 
yellowed  leaves  far  into  the  spring.  There  were  also  dark 
checks  with  gray  centres:  these  were  the  large,  built-up 
estates  encircled  by  the  small  cottages  with  their  blackening 
straw  roofs  and  their  stone-divided  landplots.  And  then 
there  were  checks  green  in  the  middle  with  brown  borders: 
these  were  the  orchards,  where  the  grass-carpets  were  al- 
ready turning  green,  although  the  trees  and  bushes  around 
them  were  still  in  their  nude  brown  bark. 

The  boy  could  not  keep  from  laughing  when  he  saw  how 
checked  everything  looked. 


But  when  the  wild  geese  heard  him  laugh,  they  called 
out  kind  o'  reprovingly:  "Fertile  and  good  land.  Fertile 
and  good  land." 

The  boy  had  already  become  serious.  "To  think  that 
you  can  laugh;  you,  who  have  met  with  the  most  terrible 
misfortune  that  can  possibly  befall  a  human  being! "  thought 
he.  And  for  a  moment  he  was  quite  solemn;  but  before 
long  he  was  laughing  again. 

Now  that  he  had  grown  somewhat  accustomed  to  the 
ride  and  the  speed,  so  that  he  could  think  of  something 
besides  holding  himself  on  the  gander's  back,  he  began  to 
notice  how  full  the  air  was  of  birds  flying  northward.  And 
there  was  a  shouting  and  a  calling  from  flock  to  flock.  "So 
you  came  over  to-day?"  shrieked  some.  "Yes,"  answered 
the  geese.  "How  do  you  think  the  spring's  getting  on?" 
"Not  a  leaf  on  the  trees  and  ice-cold  water  in  the  lakes," 
came  back  the  answer. 

When  the  geese  flew  over  a  place  where  they  saw  tame, 
half-naked  fowl,  they  shouted:  "What's  the  name  of  this 
place?  What's  the  name  of  this  place?  "  Then  the  roosters 
cocked  their  heads  and  answered:  "Its  name's  Lillgarde 
this  year  —  the  same  as  last  year;  the  same  as  last  year." 

Most  of  the  cottages  were  probably  named  after  their 
owners,  which  is  the  custom  in  Skane.  But  instead  of  saying 
this  is  "Per  Matsson's,"  or  "Ola  Bosson's,"  the  roosters 
hit  upon  the  kind  of  names  which,  to  their  way  of  thinking, 
were  more  appropriate.  Those  who  lived  on  small  farms 
and  belonged  to  poor  cottagers  cried:  "This  place  is  called 
Grainscarce."  And  those  who  belonged  to  the  poorest 
hut-dwellers  screamed:  "The  name  of  this  place  is 
Little-to-eat,  Little-to-eat,  Little-to-eat." 

The  big,  well-cared-for  farms  got  high-sounding  names 


from  the  roosters  —  such  as  Luckymeadow,  Eggberga  and 

But  the  roosters  on  the  great  landed  estates  were  too 
high  and  mighty  to  condescend  to  anything  like  jesting. 
One  of  them  crowed  and  called  out  with  such  gusto  that  it 
sounded  as  if  he  wanted  to  be  heard  clear  up  to  the  sun: 
"This  is  Herr  Dybeck's  estate;  the  same  this  year  as  last 
year,  this  year  as  last  year." 

A  little  farther  on  strutted  one  rooster  that  crowed: 
"This  is  Swanholm,  surely  all  the  world  knows  that!" 

The  boy  observed  that  the  geese  did  not  fly  straight  for- 
ward, but  zigzagged  hither  and  thither  over  the  whole 
South  country,  as  if  they  were  glad  to  be  in  Skane  again  and 
wanted  to  pay  their  respects  to  every  single  place. 

They  came  to  one  place  where  there  were  a  number  of  big, 
clumsy-looking  buildings,  with  great,  tall  chimneys,  and 
all  around  these  were  a  lot  of  little  houses.  'This  is  Jord- 
berga  Sugar  Refinery,"  crowed  the  roosters.  The  boy  shud- 
dered as  he  sat  there  on  the  goose's  back.  He  should  have 
recognized  this  locality,  for  it  was  not  very  far  from  his 

Here  he  had  worked  the  year  before  as  a  watch  boy;  but, 
to  be  sure,  nothing  was  quite  the  same  when  seen  like  that  — 
from  up  above. 

And  think!  Just  think!  Osa  the  goose  girl  and  little 
Mats  had  been  his  comrades  last  year!  Indeed  the  boy 
would  have  been  glad  to  know  if  they  were  still  anywhere 
about  here.  Fancy  what  they  would  have  said,  had  they 
suspected  that  he  was  flying  over  their  heads ! 

Soon  Jordberga  was  lost  to  sight,  and  they  travelled 
toward  Svedala  and  Skaber  Lake  and  back  again  over 
Boringe  Cloister  and  Hackeberga.  The  boy  saw  more  of 


Skane  in  this  one  day  than  he  had  ever  seen  before  in  all  the 
years  that  he  had  lived. 

When  the  wild  geese  happened  across  any  tame  geese, 
they  had  the  best  fun!  Then  they  flew  forward  very 
slowly  and  called  down:  'We're  off  to  the  hills.  Are 
you  coming  along?  Are  you  coming  along?'1 

But  the  tame  geese  answered:  "It's  still  winter  in  this 
country.  You're  out  too  soon.  Flyback!  Flyback!" 

The  wild  geese  flew  lower  that  they  might  be  heard  a 
little  better,  and  called:  "Come  along!  We'll  teach  you 
how  to  fly  and  swim." 

Then  the  tame  geese  got  mad  and  wouldn't  answer  them 
with  a  single  honk. 

The  wild  geese  sank  lower  and  lower  until  they  almost 
touched  the  ground  —  then,  quick  as  lightning,  they  rose 
as  if  they'd  been  terribly  frightened.  "Oh,  oh,  oh!"  they 
exclaimed.  "Those  creatures  were  not  geese.  They  were 
only  sheep,  they  were  only  sheep." 

The  ones  on  the  ground  were  beside  themselves  with  rage, 
and  shrieked:  "May  you  be  shot,  the  whole  lot  o'  you! 
The  whole  lot  oj  you!" 

When  the  boy  heard  all  this  teasing  he  laughed.  Then 
he  remembered  how  badly  things  had  gone  with  him,  and 
cried.  But  the  next  second,  he  was  laughing  again. 

Never  before  had  he  ridden  so  fast;  and  to  ride  fast  and 
recklessly  —  that  he  had  always  liked.  And,  of  course, 
he  had  never  dreamed  that  it  could  be  so  fresh  and  bracing  as 
it  was  up  in  the  air;  or  that  there  arose  from  the  earth  such 
a  fine  scent  of  resin  and  soil.  Nor  had  he  ever  dreamed 
what  it  would  be  like  to  ride  so  high  above  the  earth.  It 
was  just  like  flying  away  from  sorrow  and  trouble  and 
annoyances  of  every  kind  that  could  be  thought  of. 



THE  big  tame  goosey -gander,  that  had  followed  them  up 
in  the  air,  felt  very  proud  of  being  allowed  to  travel 
back  and  forth  over  the  south  country  with  the  wild  geese, 
and  crack  jokes  with  the  tame  birds.  But  happy  as  he  was 
he  began  to  grow  tired  as  the  afternoon  wore  on.  He  tried 
to  take  deeper  breaths  and  quicker  wing-strokes,  but  even 
so  he  remained  several  goose-lengths  behind  the  others. 

When  the  wild  geese  who  flew  last  noticed  that  the  tame 
one  couldn't  keep  up  with  them,  they  began  to  call  to  the 
goose  who  flew  in  the  centre  of  the  wedge  and  led  the 
procession:  "Akka  from  Kebnekaise!  Akka  from  Keb- 
nekaise!"  "What  do  you  want  of  me?"  asked  the  leader. 
"The  white  one  will  be  left  behind;  the  white  one  will  be 
left  behind."  "Tell  him  it's  easier  to  fly  fast  than  slow!" 
shouted  the  leader,  and  raced  on  as  before. 

The  goosey-gander  certainly  tried  to  follow  the  advice, 
and  increased  his  speed;  but  soon  he  became  so  exhausted 
that  he  sank  way  down  to  the  drooping  willows  that  bor- 
dered the  fields  and  meadows. 

"Akka,  Akka,  Akka  from  Kebnekaise!"  cried  those  who 
flew  last  and  saw  what  a  hard  time  he  was  having.  '  What 
do  you  want  now?"  asked  the  leader  —  and  she  sounded 
awfully  angry.  "The  white  one  sinks  to  the  earth ;  the  white 



one  sinks  to  the  earth."  "Tell  him  it's  easier  to  fly  high 
than  low!"  screamed  the  leader,  and  she  didn't  slow  up  the 
least  little  bit,  but  raced  on  as  before. 

The  goosey-gander  tried  also  to  follow  this  advice;  but 
when  he  attempted  to  rise,  he  became  so  winded  that  he 
almost  burst  his  breast. 

"Akka,  Akka!"  again  cried  those  who  flew  last.  "Can't 
you  let  me  fly  in  peace?'1  snapped  the  leader,  and  she 
sounded  even  madder  than  before. 

"The  white  one  is  ready  to  collapse."  'Tell  him  that 
he  who  has  not  the  strength  to  fly  with  the  flock,  can  go 
back  home ! "  cried  the  leader.  She  certainly  had  no  notion 
of  decreasing  her  speed  —  but  raced  on  as  before. 

"  Oh,  is  that  the  way  the  wind  blows ! "  thought  the  goosey- 
gander.  He  understood  at  once  that  the  wild  geese  had 
no  idea  of  taking  him  along  up  to  Lapland.  They  had 
only  lured  him  away  from  home  in  sport. 

He  felt  thoroughly  exasperated.  To  think  that  his 
strength  should  fail  him  now,  so  he  wouldn't  be  able  to  show 
these  tramps  that  even  a  tame  goose  was  good  for  some- 
thing !  But  the  most  provoking  of  all  was  that  he  had  fallen 
in  with  Akka  from  Kebnekaise.  Tame  goose  that  he  was, 
he  had  heard  about  a  leader  goose,  named  Akka,  who  was 
more  than  a  hundred  years  old.  She  had  such  a  big  name 
that  the  best  wild  geese  in  the  world  followed  her.  But 
none  had  such  a  contempt  for  tame  geese  as  Akka  and  her 
flock,  and  he  would  gladly  have  shown  them  that  he  was 
their  equal. 

He  flew  slowly  behind  the  rest,  while  deliberating 
whether  he  should  turn  back  or  continue.  Finally,  the  little 
creature  that  he  carried  on  his  back  said:  'Dear  Morten 
Goosey -gander,  you  know  well  enough  that  it  is  simply  im- 


possible  for  you,  who  have  never  flown,  to  go  with  the  wild 
geese  all  the  way  up  to  Lapland.  Won't  you  turn  back  be- 
fore you  kill  yourself?" 

But  the  farmer's  lad  was  about  the  worst  thing  the  goosey- 
gander  knew  of,  and,  as  soon  as  it  dawned  on  him  that  this 
puny  creature  actually  believed  that  he  couldn't  make  the 
trip,  he  decided  to  stick  it  out.  "If  you  say  another  word 
about  this,  I'll  drop  you  into  the  first  ditch  we  ride  over!" 
said  he,  and  at  the  same  time  his  fury  gave  him  so  much 
strength  that  he  began  to  fly  almost  as  well  as  any  of  the 

It  isn't  likely  that  he  could  have  kept  up  this  speed  very 
long,  nor  was  it  necessary;  for,  just  then,  the  sun  sank 
quickly;  and  at  sunset  the  geese  flew  down,  and  before  the 
boy  or  the  goosey-gander  knew  what  had  happened,  they 
stood  on  the  shore  of  Vomb  Lake. 

'They  probably  intend  that  we  shall  spend  the  night 
here,"  thought  the  boy  as  he  jumped  down  from  the  goose's 

He  stood  now  on  a  narrow  beach  by  a  fair-sized  lake.  It 
was  ugly  to  look  upon,  for  it  was  almost  entirely  covered 
with  an  ice-crust  that  was  blackened  and  uneven  and  full  of 
cracks  and  holes  -  -  as  spring  ice  generally  is. 

The  ice  was  already  breaking  up.  It  was  loose  and  float- 
ing with  a  broad  belt  of  dark,  shiny  water  all  around  it;  but 
there  was  still  enough  of  it  left  to  spread  chill  and  winter 
terror  over  the  place. 

On  the  other  side  of  the  lake  there  appeared  to  be  an 
open  and  light  country,  but  where  the  geese  had  alighted 
there  was  a  thick  pine-growth.  It  looked  as  if  the  forest 
of  firs  and  pines  had  the  power  to  bind  the  winter  to  itself. 
Everywhere  else  the  ground  was  bare;  but  beneath  the 


sharp  pine-branches  lay  snow  that  had  been  melting  and 
freezing,  melting  and  freezing,  till  it  was  as  hard  as  ice. 

The  boy  thought  he  had  struck  an  arctic  wilderness,  and 
he  was  so  miserable  that  he  wanted  to  scream.  He  was 
hungry  too.  He  hadn't  eaten  a  bite  the  whole  day.  But 
where  should  he  find  any  food?  Nothing  eatable  grew  on 
either  ground  or  tree  in  the  month  of  March. 

Yes,  where  was  he  to  find  food,  and  who  would  give  him 
shelter,  and  who  would  fix  his  bed,  and  who  would  protect 
him  from  the  wild  beasts? 

For  now  the  sun  was  away  and  frost  came  from  the  lake, 
and  darkness  sank  down  from  heaven,  and  terror  stole 
forward  on  the  twilight's  trail,  and  in  the  forest  it  began  to 
patter  and  rustle. 

Now  the  good  humour  which  the  boy  had  felt  when  he 
was  up  in  the  air  was  gone,  and  in  his  misery  he  looked 
around  for  his  travelling  companions.  He  had  no  one  but 
them  to  cling  to  now. 

Then  he  saw  that  the  goosey-gander  was  having  even  a 
worse  time  of  it.  He  was  lying  prostrate  on  the  spot 
where  he  had  alighted;  and  it  looked  as  if  he  were  ready  to 
die.  His  neck  lay  flat  against  the  ground,  his  eyes  were 
closed,  and  his  breathing  sounded  like  a  feeble  hissing. 

"Dear  Morten  Goosey-gander,"  said  the  boy,  ;<try  to 
get  a  swallow  of  water!  It  isn't  two  steps  to  the  lake." 

But  the  goosey-gander  didn't  stir. 

The  boy  had  certainly  been  cruel  to  all  animals,  and  to 
the  goosey-gander  in  times  gone  by;  but  now  he  felt  that 
the  goosey-gander  was  the  only  comfort  he  had  left,  and  he 
was  dreadfully  afraid  of  losing  him. 

All  at  once  the  boy  began  to  push  and  drag  him,  to  get 
him  into  the  water,  but  the  goosey-gander  was  big  and 


heavy,  and  it  was  mighty  hard  work  for  the  boy;  but  at  last 
he  succeeded. 

The  goosey-gander  got  in  —  head  first.  For  an  instant 
he  lay  motionless  in  the  slime,  but  soon  he  poked  up  his 
head,  shook  the  water  from  his  eyes,  and  sniffed.  Then  he 
swam  proudly  between  reeds  and  seaweed. 

The  wild  geese  were  in  the  lake  before  him.  They  had 
not  looked  around,  for  either  the  goosey-gander  or  his  rider, 
but  had  made  straight  for  the  water.  They  had  bathed 
and  primped,  and  now  they  lay  and  gulped  half-rotten 
pond-weed  and  water-clover. 

The  white  goosey-gander  had  the  good  fortune  to  spy  a 
perch.  He  grabbed  it  quickly,  swam  ashore  with  it,  and 
laid  it  down  in  front  of  the  boy.  "  Here's  a  thank  you  for 
helping  me  into  the  water,"  said  he. 

Those  were  the  first  friendly  words  the  boy  had  heard  that 
day.  He  was  so  happy  that  he  wanted  to  throw  his  arms 
around  the  goosey-gander's  neck,  but  he  didn't;  and  he  was 
also  thankful  for  the  gift.  At  first  he  thought  it  would  be 
impossible  for  him  to  eat  raw  fish,  and  then  he  had  a  notion 
to  try  it. 

He  felt  to  see  if  he  still  had  his  sheath-knife  with  him; 
and,  sure  enough,  there  it  hung  —  on  the  back  button  of  his 
trousers,  although  it  was  so  diminished  that  it  was  hardly 
as  long  as  a  match.  Well,  at  any  rate,  it  served  to  scale 
and  cleanse  fish  with;  and  it  wasn't  long  before  the  perch 
was  eaten. 

When  the  boy  had  satisfied  his  hunger,  he  felt  a  little 
ashamed  because  he  had  been  able  to  eat  a  raw  animal. 
"It's  evident  that  I'm  no  longer  a  human  being  but  a  real 
elf,"  thought  he. 

While   the   boy   was   eating,   the   goosey-gander   stood 




quietly  beside  him.  But  when  he  had  swallowed  the  last 
morsel  he  said  in  a  low  voice:  "It's  a  fact  that  we  have  run 
across  a  stuck-up  goose  folk  who  despise  all  tame  birds." 

"Yes,  I've  observed  that,"  said  the  boy. 

"What  a  triumph  it  would  be  for  me  if  I  could  follow 
them  clear  up  to  Lapland,  and  show  them  that  even  a  tame 
goose  can  do  things!" 

"Y-e-e-s,"  said  the  boy,  drawling  it  out,  for  he  didn't 
believe  the  goosey-gander  could  ever  do  it;  yet  he  did  not 
wish  to  contradict  him.  "But  I  don't  think  I  can  get  along 
all  by  myself  on  such  a  journey,"  said  the  goosey-gander. 
"I'd  like  to  ask  if  you  couldn't  come  along  to  help  me?" 
The  boy,  of  course,  hadn't  expected  anything  but  to  return 
to  his  home  as  soon  as  possible,  and  he  was  so  surprised 
that  he  hardly  knew  what  he  should  reply.  "I  thought 
that  we  were  enemies,  you  and  I,"  said  he.  But  this  the 
goosey-gander  seemed  to  have  forgotten  entirely.  He 
only  remembered  that  the  boy  had  but  just  saved  his  life. 

"I  suppose  I  really  ought  to  go  home  to  father  and 
mother,"  said  the  boy.  "Oh,  I'll  get  you  back  to  them 
some  time  in  the  fall,"  assured  the  goosey-gander.  "I  shall 
not  leave  you  until  I  can  set  you  down  on  your  own  door- 

The  boy  thought  it  would  be  just  as  well  for  him  not  to 
be  seen  by  his  parents  yet  a  while.  He  was  not  disinclined 
to  favour  the  proposition,  and  was  just  on  the  point  of  say- 
ing that  he  agreed  to  it  —  when  they  heard  a  loud  rumbling 
from  behind.  The  wild  geese  had  just  come  up  from  the 
lake  —  all  at  one  time  —  and  stood  shaking  the  water  from 
their  backs.  After  that,  they  arranged  themselves  in  a  long 
row  with  the  leader-goose  in  the  centre  —  and  came  toward 


As  the  white  goosey-gander  sized  up  the  wild  geese,  he 
felt  ill  at  ease.  He  had  expected  that  they  should  be  more 
like  tame  geese,  and  that  he  should  feel  a  closer  kinship 
with  them.  They  were  much  smaller  than  he,  and  none 
of  them  was  white.  All  were  gray  with  a  sprinkling  of 
brown.  He  was  almost  afraid  of  their  eyes,  which  were 
yellow  and  shone  as  if  a  fire  had  been  kindled  back  of  them. 
The  goosey-gander  had  always  been  taught  that  it  was  most 
fitting  to  move  slowly  and  with  a  rolling  motion,  but  these 
creatures  did  not  walk  —  they  almost  ran.  He  grew  most 
alarmed,  however,  when  he  looked  at  their  feet.  They 
were  large,  with  torn  and  ragged-looking  soles.  It  was 
apparent  that  the  wild  geese  never  questioned  what  they 
tramped  upon.  They  took  no  by-paths.  They  were  very 
neat  and  well  cared  for  in  other  respects,  but  one  could  tell 
by  their  feet  that  they  were  poor  wilderness-folk. 

The  goosey -gander  only  had  time  to  whisper  to  the  boy: 
"Speak  up  quickly  for  yourself,  but  don't  tell  them  who 
you  are!"  —  before  the  geese  were  upon  them. 

When  the  wild  geese  had  stopped  in  front  of  them,  they 
courtesied  with  their  necks  many  times,  and  the  goosey- 
gander  did  likewise  many  more  times.  As  soon  as  the 
ceremonies  were  over,  the  leader-goose  said:  "Now  I 
presume  we  shall  hear  what  kind  of  creatures  you  are." 

"There  isn't  much  to  tell  about  me,"  said  the  goosey- 
gander.  "I  was  born  in  Skanor  last  spring.  In  the  fall  I 
was  sold  to  Holger  Nilsson  of  West  Vemmenhog,  and  there 
I  have  lived  ever  since."  'You  don't  seem  to  have  any 
pedigree  to  boast  of,"  said  the  leader-goose.  "What  is  it, 
then,  that  makes  you  so  high-minded  that  you  wish  to 
associate  with  wild  geese ?"  "It  may  be  because  I  want  to 
show  you  wild  geese  that  we  tame  ones  may  also  be  good  for 


something,"  said  the  goosey-gander.  "Yes,  it  would  be 
well  if  you  could  show  us  that,"  challenged  the  leader- 
goose.  'We  have  already  observed  how  much  you  know 
about  flying;  but  you  are  more  skilled,  perhaps,  at  other 
sports.  Possibly  you  are  strong  in  a  swimming  match?" 
"No,  I  can't  boast  that  I  am,"  said  the  goosey -gander. 
It  seemed  to  him  as  if  the  leader-goose  had  already  made 
up  her  mind  to  send  him  home,  so  he  didn't  much  care  how 
he  answered.  "I  never  swam  any  farther  than  across  a 
marl-ditch,"  he  retorted.  'Then  I  presume  you're  a 
crack  sprinter,"  said  the  goose.  "I  have  never  seen  a  tame 
goose  run,  nor  have  I  ever  done  so  myself,"  said  the  goosey- 
gander;  and  he  made  things  appear  much  worse  than  they 
really  were. 

The  big  white  one  was  sure  now  that  the  leader-goose 
would  say  that  under  no  circumstances  could  they  take 
him  along.  He  was  very  much  astonished  when  she  said: 
'You  answer  questions  courageously;  and  he  who  has 
courage  can  become  a  good  travelling  companion,  even  if 
he  is  ignorant  in  the  beginning.  What  do  you  say  to  stop- 
ping with  us  a  couple  of  days,  until  we  can  see  what  you  are 
good  for?"  'That  suits  me!"  said  the  goosey -gander — • 
and  he  was  thoroughly  happy. 

Thereupon  the  leader-goose  pointed  with  her  bill  and  said : 
"But  whom  have  you  there?  I've  never  seen  any  one  like 
him  before."  'That's  my  comrade,"  said  the  goosey- 
gander.  "He's  been  a  goose-tender  all  his  life.  He'll  be 
useful,  all  right,  to  take  with  us  on  the  trip."  "Yes,  he  may 
be  all  right  for  a  tame  goose,"  retorted  the  wild  one.  "  What 
do  you  call  him?'!  "He  has  several  names,"  said  the 
goosey-gander  hesitatingly,  not  knowing  what  he  should 
hit  upon  in  a  hurry,  for  he  didn't  want  to  reveai  the  fact 


that  the  boy  had  a  human  name.  "Oh!  his  name  is  Thurn- 
bietot,"  he  said  at  last.  "  Does  he  belong  to  the  elf  family  ?  M 
asked  the  leader-goose.  "At  what  hour  do  you  wild  geese 
usually  retire? "  said  the  goosey -gander  quickly  —  trying 
to  evade  that  last  question.  "My  eyes  close  of  their  own 
accord  about  this  time." 

One  could  easily  see  that  the  goose  who  talked  with  the 
gander  was  very  old.  Her  entire  feather  outfit  was  ice-gray 
with  no  dark  streaks.  The  head  was  larger  than  that  of 
the  others;  the  legs  were  coarser,  and  the  feet  were  more 
worn.  The  feathers  were  stiff;  the  shoulders  knotty;  the 
neck  thin.  All  this  was  due  to  age.  It  was  only  upon  the 
eyes  that  time  had  had  no  effect.  They  shone  brighter  — 
as  if  they  were  younger  than  those  of  the  others. 

She  turned  very  haughtily  toward  the  goosey-gander. 
*  Understand,  Mr.  Tame-goose,  that  I  am  Akka  from  Keb- 
nekaise !  And  that  the  goose  who  flies  nearest  me  —  to  the 
right  —  is  Iksi  from  Vassijaure,  and  the  one  to  the  left  is 
Kaksi  from  Nuolja!  Understand,  also,  that  the  second 
right-hand  goose  is  Kolmi  from  Sarjektjakko,  and  the 
second,  left,  is  Nelja  from  Svappavaara;  and  behind  them 
fly  Viisi  from  Oviksfjallen  and  Kuusi  from  Sjangeli!  And 
know  that  these,  as  well  as  the  six  goslings,  who  fly  last  — 
three  to  the  right,  and  three  to  the  left  —  are  all  high  moun- 
tain geese  of  the  finest  breed!  You  must  not  take  us  for 
land-lubbers  who  strike  up  a  chance  acquaintance  with  any 
and  every  one!  And  you  must  not  think  that  we  permit 
any  one  to  share  our  quarters  that  will  not  tell  us  who  his 
ancestors  were." 

While  Akka,  the  leader-goose,  was  talking  in  this  strain, 
the  boy  stepped  briskly  forward.  It  distressed  him  that  the 
goosey-gander,  who  had  spoken  ug  so  glibly  for  himself, 


should  give  such  evasive  answers  when  it  concerned  him. 
"I  don't  care  to  make  a  secret  of  who  I  am,"  said  he.  " My 
name  is  Nils  Holgersson.  I'm  a  farmer's  son,  and,  until 

to-day,  I  was  a  human  being ;  but  this  morning "   He  got 

no  further.  As  soon  as  he  said  that  he  was  human  the 
leader-goose  staggered  three  steps  backward,  and  the  rest 
of  them  even  farther  back.  All  craned  their  necks  and 
hissed  angrily  at  him. 

"I  have  suspected  this  ever  since  I  first  saw  you  here  on 
these  shores,"  said  Akka;  "and  now  you  can  clear  out  of 
here  at  once.  We  tolerate  no  human  beings  among  us." 

"It  isn't  possible,"  said  the  goosey -gander,  meditatively, 
"that  you  wild  geese  can  be  afraid  of  any  one  who  is  so 
tiny!  By  to-inorrow,  of  course,  he'll  turn  back  home. 
You  can  surely  let  him  stay  with  us  overnight.  None  of 
us  can  afford  to  let  such  a  poor  little  creature  wander  off  by 
himself  in  the  night  —  among  weasels  and  foxes!" 

The  wild  goose  came  nearer.  But  one  could  see  that  it 
was  hard  for  her  to  master  her  fear.  "I  have  been  taught 
to  fear  everything  in  human  shape  —  be  it  big  or  little,"  said 
she.  "But  if  you  will  answer  for  this  one,  and  swear  that 
he  will  not  harm  us,  he  may  stay  with  us  to-night.  But  I 
don't  believe  our  night  quarters  are  suitable  for  either  him 
or  you,  for  we  intend  to  roost  on  the  broken  ice  out  here." 

She  thought,  of  course,  that  the  goosey -gander  would  be 
doubtful  when  he  heard  this,  but  he  never  let  on.  "She 
is  pretty  wise  who  knows  how  to  choose  such  a  safe  bed," 
said  he. 

"You  will  be  answerable  for  his  return  to  his  own  to- 

"Then  I,  too,  will  have  to  leave  you,"  said  the  goosey 
gander.     "  I  have  sworn  that  I  would  not  forsake  him." 


'You  are  free  to  fly  whither  you  will,"  said  the  leader- 

With  this,  she  raised  her  wings  and  flew  out  over  the  ice, 
and,  one  after  another,  the  wild  geese  followed  her. 

The  boy  was  very  sad  to  think  that  his  trip  to  Lap- 
land would  not  come  off,  and,  in  the  bargain,  he  was 
afraid  of  the  chilly  night  quarter.  "It  will  be  worse  and 
worse,"  said  he.  "In  the  first  place,  'we'll  freeze  to  death 
on  the  ice." 

But  the  gander  was  in  good  humour.  '  There's  no  danger," 
he  said.  "Only  make  haste,  I  beg  of  you,  and  gather  up 
as  much  grass  and  litter  as  you  can  well  carry." 

When  the  boy  had  an  armful  of  dried  grass,  the  goosey- 
gander  grabbed  him  by  the  shirt-band,  lifted  him,  and  flew 
out  upon  the  ice,  where  the  wild  geese  were  already  fast 
asleep  with  their  bills  tucked  under  their  wings. 

"Now  spread  out  the  grass  on  the  ice  so  there  will  be 
something  to  stand  on,  to  keep  me  from  freezing  fast.  You 
help  me  and  I'll  help  you,"  said  the  goosey -gander. 

This  the  boy  did.  And  when  he  had  finished,  the  goosey- 
gander  again  picked  him  up  by  the  shirt-band,  and  tucked 
him  under  his  wing.  "I  think  you'll  lie  snug  and  warm 
there,"  said  the  goosey-gander  as  he  covered  him  with  his 

The  boy  was  so  imbedded  in  down  that  he  couldn't 
answer;  and  he  was  nice  and  comfy.  Oh,  but  he  was  tired! 
And  in  less  than  two  winks  he  was  fast  asleep. 


IT  is  a  fact  that  ice  is  always  treacherous  and  not  to  be 
trusted.  In  the  middle  of  the  night  the  loosened  ice-cake 


on  Vomb  Lake  moved  about,  till  one  corner  of  it  touched 
the  shore.  Now  it  happened  that  Mr.  Smirre  Fox,  who 
lived  at  this  time  in  Ovid  Cloister-Park  —  on  the  east  side 
of  the  lake  —  caught  a  glimpse  of  that  one  corner  while 
out  on  his  night  chase.  Smirre  had  seen  the  wild  geese  early 
in  the  evening,  and  hadn't  even  dared  to  hope  that  he  might 
get  at  one  of  them;  but  now  he  walked  straight  out  on  the  ice. 

When  Smirre  was  very  near  to  the  geese,  his  claws  scraped 
the  ice,  and  the  geese  awoke,  flapped  their  wings,  and  pre- 
pared for  flight.  But  Smirre  was  too  quick  for  them.  He 
darted  forward  as  though  he'd  been  shot,  grabbed  a  goose 
by  the  wing  and  ran  toward  land  again. 

But  this  night  the  wild  geese  were  not  alone  on  the  ice, 
for  they  had  a  human  being  among  them  —  little  as  he  was. 
The  boy  had  awakened  when  the  goosey-gander  spread  his 
wings.  He  had  tumbled  down  on  the  ice  and  was  sitting 
there,  dazed.  He  hadn't  grasped  the  whys  and  wherefores 
of  all  this  confusion  until  he  had  caught  sight  of  a  little 
long-legged  dog  who  ran  over  the  ice  with  a  goose  in  his 

In  a  second  the  boy  was  after  that  dog,  to  take  the  goose 
away  from  him.  He  must  have  heard  the  goosey-gander 
call  to  him:  "Have  a  care,  Thumbietot!  Have  a  care!" 
But  the  boy  thought  that  such  a  little  runt  of  a  dog  was 
nothing  to  be  afraid  of,  so  he  rushed  ahead. 

The  wild  goose  that  Smirre  Fox  was  tugging  along  heard 
the  clatter  as  the  boy's  wooden  shoes  beat  against  the  ice, 
and  she  could  hardly  believe  her  ears.  "Does  that  infant 
think  he  can  take  me  away  from  the  fox?"  she  wondered. 
And  in  spite  of  her  misery,  she  began  to  cackle  right  merrily, 
deep  down  in  her  windpipe.  It  was  almost  as  if  she  had 


"The  first  thing  he  knows,  he'll  fall  through  a  crack  in  the 
ice,"  thought  she. 

But  dark  as  the  night  was,  the  boy  saw  distinctly  all  the 
cracks  and  holes  there  were,  and  took  daring  leaps  over 
them.  This  was  because  he  had  the  elf's  good  eyesight 
now,  and  could  see  in  the  dark.  He  saw  both  lake  and  shore 
just  as  clearly  as  if  it  had  been  daylight. 

Smirre  Fox  left  the  ice  where  it  touched  the  shore.  And 
just  as  he  was  working  his  way  up  to  the  land-edge,  the  boy 
shouted  to  him:  "Drop  that  goose,  you  sneak!'3  Smirre 
didn't  know  who  was  calling  to  him,  and  wasted  no  time 
in  looking  around,  but  increased  his  pace. 

The  fox  made  straight  for  the  forest  and  the  boy  followed 
him,  with  never  a  thought  of  the  risk  he  was  running. 
On  the  contrary,  he  was  thinking  all  the  while  about  the 
contemptuous  way  in  which  he  had  been  received  by  the 
wild  geese  that  evening;  and  he  made  up  his  mind  to  let 
them  see  that  a  human  being  was  something  higher  than 
all  else  created. 

He  shouted,  again  and  again  to  that  dog,  to  make  him 
drop  his  game.  'What  kind  of  a  dog  are  you,  who  can 
steal  a  whole  goose  and  not  feel  ashamed  of  yourself? 
Drop  her  at  once!  or  you'll  see  what  a  beating  you'll  get. 
Drop  her,  I  say,  or  I'll  tell  your  master  how  you  behave!" 

When  Smirre  Fox  saw  that  he  had  been  mistaken  for  a 
scary  dog,  he  was  so  amused  that  he  came  near  dropping 
the  goose.  Smirre  was  a  great  plunderer  who  wasn't  satis- 
fied with  hunting  only  rats  and  pigeons  in  the  fields,  but 
he  also  ventured  into  the  farmyards  to  steal  chickens  and 
geese.  He  knew  that  he  was  feared  throughout  the  district; 
and  anything  so  idiotic  as  this  he  had  not  heard  since  he  was 
a  baby. 


The  boy  ran  so  fast  that  the  thick  beech-trees  appeared 
to  be  running  past  him  —  backward,  and  he  gained  on 
Smirre.  Finally,  he  was  so  close  to  him  that  he  got  a  hold 
on  his  tail.  "Now  I'll  take  the  goose  from  you  anyway," 
cried  he,  holding  on  as  tight  as  ever  he  could,  but  he  hadn't 
strength  enough  to  stop  Smirre.  The  fox  dragged  him 
along  until  the  dry  foliage  whirled  around  him. 

But  now  it  began  to  dawn  on  Smirre  how  harmless  was 
the  creature  that  pursued  him.  He  stopped  short,  put  the 
goose  on  the  ground,  and  held  her  down  with  his  forepaws, 
so  she  couldn't  fly  away.  He  was  just  about  to  bite  off  her 
neck  —  but  he  couldn't  resist  the  desire  to  tease  the  boy 
a  little.  "  Hurry  off  and  complain  to  the  master,  for  now 
I'm  going  to  bite  the  goose  to  death!"  said  he. 

Certainly  the  one  who  was  surprised  when  he  saw  what  a 
pointed  nose,  and  heard  what  a  hoarse  and  angry  voice 
that  dog  which  he  was  pursuing  had,  was  —  the  boy !  But 
now  he  was  so  provoked  because  the  fox  had  made  fun  of 
him  that  he  never  thought  of  being  frightened.  He  took  a 
firmer  hold  on  the  tail,  braced  himself  against  a  beech  trunk; 
and  just  as  the  fox  opened  his  jaws  over  the  goose's  throat, 
he  pulled  as  hard  as  he  could.  Smirre  was  so  astonished 
that  he  let  himself  be  pulled  backward  a  couple  of  steps  - 
and  the  wild  goose  got  away.  She  fluttered  upward,  feebly 
and  heavily.  One  wing  was  so  badly  wounded  that  she 
could  barely  use  it.  Besides,  she  could  not  see  in  the  night 
darkness  of  the  forest,  but  was  as  helpless  as  the  blind. 
Therefore  she  could  in  no  way  help  the  boy.  She  groped 
her  way  through  the  branches  and  flew  down  to  the  lake 

Then  Smirre  made  a  dash  for  the  boy.     "If  I  don't  get 
the  one,  I  shall  certainly  have  the  other,"  said  he;  and  you 


could  tell  by  his  voice  how  mad  he  was.  "Oh,  don't  you 
believe  it!"  said  the  boy,  who  was  in  the  best  of  spirits 
because  he  had  saved  the  goose.  He  held  himself  fast  by 
the  fox-tail,  and  swung  with  it  to  one  side  when  the  fox  tried 
to  catch  him. 

There  was  such  a  dance  in  that  forest  that  the  dry  beech- 
leaves  fairly  flew!  Smirre  swung  round  and  round,  but 
the  tail  swung  too;  while  the  boy  kept  a  tight  grip  on  it,  so 
the  fox  couldn't  grab  him. 

The  boy  was  so  gay  after  his  success  that,  in  the  beginning, 
he  only  laughed  and  made  fun  of  the  fox.  But  Smirre  was 
persevering  —  as  old  hunters  generally  are  —  and  the  boy 
began  to  fear  that  he  would  be  captured  in  the  end. 

Then  he  caught  sight  of  a  little,  young  beech-tree  that 
had  shot  up  as  slender  as  a  rod,  that  it  might  soon  reach  the 
free  air  above  the  canopy  of  branches  which  the  old  beeches 
spread  over  it. 

Quick  as  a  flash,  he  let  go  of  the  fox-tail  and  climbed  the 
beech-tree.  Smirre  Fox  was  so  excited  that  he  continued  to 
dance  around  after  his  tail  a  long  time. 

" Don't  bother  with  the  dance  any  longer!"  said  the  boy. 

But  Smirre  couldn't  endure  the  humiliation  of  his  failure 
to  get  the  better  of  such  a  little  tot,  so  he  laid  down  under 
the  tree,  that  he  might  keep  a  close  watch  on  him. 

The  boy  didn't  have  any  too  good  a  time  of  it  where  he 
sat,  astride  a  frail  branch.  The  young  beech  did  not,  as 
yet,  reach  the  high  branch-canopy,  so  the  boy  couldn't  get 
over  to  another  tree,  and  he  didn't  dare  come  down.  He 
was  so  cold  and  numb  that  he  almost  lost  his  hold  around 
the  branch;  and  he  was  dreadfully  sleepy;  but  he  didn't 
dare  fall  asleep  for  fear  of  tumbling  down. 

My !  but  it  was  dismal  to  sit  in  that  way  the  whole  night 


through,  out  in  the  forest !  He  had  never  before  understood 
the  real  meaning  of  "night."  It  was  just  as  if  the  whole 
world  had  become  petrified,  and  never  could  come  to  life 

Then  it  commenced  to  dawn.  The  boy  was  glad  that 
everything  began  to  look  like  itself  once  more;  although  the 
chill  was  even  sharper  than  it  had  been  during  the  night. 

When  the  sun  finally  came  up,  it  wasn't  yellow  but 
red.  The  boy  thought  it  looked  as  if  it  was  angry  and  he 
wondered  what  it  was  angry  about.  Perhaps  it  was  be- 
cause the  night  had  made  it  so  cold  and  gloomy  on  earth 
while  the  sun  was  away. 

The  sunbeams  came  down  in  great  clusters,  to  see  what 
the  night  had  been  up  to.  It  could  be  seen  how  all  things 
blushed  —  as  if  they  all  had  guilty  consciences.  The  clouds 
in  the  skies;  the  satiny  beech-limbs;  the  little  intertwined 
branches  of  the  forest-canopy;  the  hoar-frost  that  covered 
the  brushwood  —  everything  grew  flushed  and  red.  More 
and  more  sunbeams  came  bursting  through  space,  and 
soon  the  night's  terrors  were  driven  away,  and  such  a 
marvellous  lot  of  living  things  came  forward.  The  black 
woodpecker,  with  the  red  neck,  began  to  hammer  with  its 
bill  on  the  branch.  The  squirrel  glided  from  his  nest  with 
a  nut,  sat  down  on  a  branch  and  began  to  shell  it.  The 
starling  came  flying  with  a  worm,  and  the  bullfinch  sang  in 
the  tree-top. 

Then  the  boy  understood  that  the  sun  had  said  to  all 
these  tiny  creatures:  'Wake  up  now,  and  come  out  of 
your  nests!  I'm  here!  Now  you  needn't  be  afraid  of 

The  wild-goose  call  was  heard  from  the  lake,  as  the  geese 
were  preparing  for  flight;  and  soon  all  the  fourteen  geese 


came  flying  through  the  forest.  The  boy  tried  to  call  to  them, 
but  they  flew  so  high  that  his  voice  couldn't  reach  them. 
They  probably  believed  the  fox  had  eaten  him  up;  and 
they  didn't  trouble  themselves  to  look  for  him. 

The  boy  came  near  crying  with  chagrin;  but  the  sun 
stood  up  there  —  orange-coloured  and  happy  —  and  put 
courage  into  the  whole  world.  "It  isn't  worth  while,  Nils 
Holgersson,  for  you  to  be  troubled  about  anything,  so  long 
as  I'm  here,"  said  the  sun. 


Monday,  March  twenty-first. 

EVERYTHING  remained  unchanged  in  the  forest  about  as 
long  as  it  takes  a  goose  to  eat  her  breakfast.  But  just  as  the 
morning  was  verging  on  forenoon,  a  goose  came  flying,  all 
by  herself,  under  the  thick  tree-canopy.  She  groped  her 
way  hesitatingly  between  stems  and  branches,  and  flew 
very  slowly.  As  soon  as  Smirre  Fox  saw  her,  he  left  his 
place  under  the  beech -tree,  and  sneaked  toward  her.  The 
wild  goose  didn't  avoid  the  fox,  but  flew  quite  close  to 
him.  Smirre  made  a  high  jump  for  her  but  missed  her; 
and  the  goose  went  on  her  way,  down  to  the  lake. 

It  was  not  long  until  another  goose  came  flying.  She 
took  the  same  route  as  the  first  one,  and  flew  still  lower 
and  slower.  She,  too,  flew  close  to  Smirre  Fox,  and  he  made 
such  a  high  spring  for  her  that  his  ears  brushed  her  feet. 
But  she,  too,  got  away  from  him  unhurt,  and  went  her  way 
toward  the  lake,  silent  as  a  shadow. 

A  little  while  passed,  and  then  along  came  another  wild 
goose.  She  flew  still  slower  and  lower;  and  it  seemed  even 
more  difficult  for  her  to  find  her  way  between  the  beech- 


branches.  Smirre  made  a  powerful  spring!  He  was  within 
a  hair's  breadth  of  catching  her;  but  that  goose  also  managed 
to  save  herself. 

Just  after  she  had  disappeared,  there  came  a  fourth.  She 
flew  so  slowly  and  so  badly,  that  Smirre  Fox  thought  he 
could  catch  her  without  much  effort,  but  now  he  was 
afraid  of  failure  and  decided  to  let  her  fly  past,  unmolested. 
She  took  the  same  direction  the  others  had  taken;  and  just 
as  she  was  right  above  Smirre,  she  sank  down  so  far  that  he 
was  tempted  to  jump  for  her.  He  jumped  so  high  that  he 
touched  her  with  his  tail.  But  she  flung  herself  quickly 
to  one  side,  and  saved  her  life. 

Before  Smirre  was  through  panting,  three  more  geese 
came  flying  in  a  row.  They  flew  just  like  the  rest,  and 
Smirre  made  high  springs  for  all  three,  but  he  did  not  suc- 
ceed in  catching  one  of  them. 

After  that  came  five  more  geese;  but  these  flew  better 
than  the  others.  And  although  it  appeared  as  if  they 
wanted  to  coax  Smirre  to  jump,  he  withstood  the  temp- 
tation. After  quite  a  long  time  came  one  lone  goose.  It 
was  the  thirteenth.  This  one  was  so  old  that  she  was  gray 
all  over,  without  a  dark  speck  anywhere  on  her  body. 
Apparently,  she  could  use  only  one  wing,  for  she  flew  so 
wretchedly  and  crookedly  that  she  almost  touched  the 
ground.  Smirre  not  only  made  a  high  leap  for  her,  but  he  also 
pursued  her,  running  and  jumping  all  the  way  down  to  the 
lake.  But  not  even  this  time  did  he  get  anything  for  his 

When  the  fourteenth  goose  came  along,  it  looked  very 
pretty  because  it  was  white.  And  as  the  great  wings 
moved,  it  glistened  like  a  light  in  the  dark  forest.  When 
Smirre  Fox  saw  this  one,  he  mustered  all  his  strength  and 


jumped  halfway  up  to  the  tree-canopy.  But  the  white  one 
flew  by  unhurt  like  the  rest. 

Now  it  was  quiet  for  a  moment  under  the  beeches. 
It  looked  as  if  the  whole  wild-goose  flock  had  flown 

Suddenly  Smirre  remembered  his  prisoner  and  raised  his 
eyes  toward  the  young  beech-tree.  And  just  as  he  might 
have  expected  —  the  boy  had  disappeared. 

But  Smirre  didn't  have  much  time  to  think  about  him; 
for  now  the  first  goose  came  back  again  from  the  lake  and 
flew  slowly  under  the  canopy.  In  spite  of  all  his  bad  luck, 
Smirre  was  glad  that  she  had  come  back,  and  darted  after 
her  with  high  leaps.  But  he  had  been  in  too  much  of  a 
hurry,  and  hadn't  taken  time  to  calculate  the  distance,  so  he 
landed  at  the  side  of  the  goose.  Then  there  came  still 
another  goose;  then  a  third;  a  fourth;  a  fifth;  and  so  on, 
until  the  wedge  closed  in  with  the  old  ice-gray  one,  and  the 
big  white  one.  They  all  flew  low  and  slow.  Just  as  they 
circled  in  the  vicinity  of  Smirre  Fox,  they  sank  down  — 
kind  of  inviting-like  —  for  him  to  take  them.  Smirre 
ran  after  them  and  made  leaps  a  couple  of  metres  high, 
but  he  couldn't  manage  to  get  hold  of  a  single  one  of 

It  was  the  most  awful  day  that  Smirre  Fox  had  ever 
experienced.  The  wild  geese  kept  right  on  travelling  over 
his  head.  They  came  and  went  —  came  and  went.  Great, 
splendid  geese,  who  had  eaten  themselves  fat  on  the  Ger- 
man heaths  and  grain  fields,  circled  all  day  through  the 
woods,  and  so  close  to  him  that  he  touched  them  many 
times;  yet  he  was  not  allowed  to  appease  his  hunger  with 
a  single  one. 

The  winter  was  hardly  gone  and  Smirre  recalled  nights 


and  days  when  he  had  been  forced  to  tramp  around  in  idle- 
ness, with  not  so  much  as  a  hare  to  hunt;  when  the  rats  hid 
themselves  under  the  frozen  earth ;  and  when  all  the  chickens 
were  shut  up.  But  all  the  winter's  hunger  had  not  been  as 
hard  to  endure  as  this  day's  miscalculations. 

Smirre  was  no  young  fox.  He  had  had  the  dogs  after 
him  many  a  time,  and  had  heard  the  bullets  whiz  around  his 
ears.  He  had  lain  in  hiding,  down  in  the  lair,  while  the 
dachshunds  crept  into  the  crevices  and  all  but  found  him. 
But  all  the  anguish  that  Smirre  Fox  had  been  forced  to 
suffer  under  that  hot  chase  was  as  nothing  in  comparison 
with  what  he  suffered  every  time  that  he  missed  one  of  the 
wild  geese. 

In  the  morning,  when  the  chase  began,  Smirre  Fox  looked 
so  stunning  that  the  geese  were  amazed  when  they  saw 
him.  Smirre  loved  display.  His  coat  was  a  brilliant  red; 
his  breast  white;  his  nose  black;  and  his  tail  was  as  bushy 
as  a  plume.  But  when  the  even  of  this  day  was  come,  Smirre's 
coat  hung  in  loose  folds.  He  was  bathed  in  sweat;  his  eyes 
were  without  lustre;  his  tongue  hung  far  out  from  his  gap- 
ing jaws;  and  froth  oozed  from  his  mouth. 

Even  in  the  afternoon  Smirre  was  already  so  exhausted 
that  he  grew  delirious.  He  saw  nothing  before  his  eyes  but 
flying  geese.  He  made  leaps  for  sun-spots  which  he  saw  on 
the  ground;  and  for  a  poor  little  butterfly  that  had  come 
out  of  its  chrysalis  too  soon. 

The  wild  geese  flew  and  flew,  unceasingly.  All  day  long 
they  continued  to  torment  Smirre.  They  were  not  moved 
to  pity  because  Smirre  was  spent,  fevered,  and  out  of  his 
head.  They  continued  without  a  let-up,  although  they 
understood  that  he  hardly  saw  them,  and  that  he  jumped 
after  their  shadows. 


When  Smirre  Fox  finally  sank  down  on  a  pile  of  dry  leaves, 
weak  and  powerless  and  almost  ready  to  give  up  the  ghost, 
they  stopped  teasing  him. 

"Now  you  know,  Mr.  Fox,  what  happens  to  the  one  who 
dares  to  come  near  Akka  of  Kebnekaise!"  they  shouted  in 
his  ear;  and  with  that  they  left  him  in  peace. 



Thursday.,  March  twenty -fourth. 

JUST  at  that  time  a  thing  happened  in  Skane  which 
created  a  good  deal  of  discussion  and  which  even  got 
into  the  newspapers,  but  which  many  believed  to  be  only  a 
fable,  because  they  were  not  able  to  explain  it. 

It  was  about  like  this:  A  lady  squirrel  had  been  cap- 
tured in  the  hazelbrush  along  the  shores  of  Vomb  Lake,  and 
carried  to  a  farmhouse  close  by.  All  the  folks  on  the 
farm,  both  young  and  old,  were  delighted  with  the  pretty 
creature  with  the  bushy  tail,  the  wise,  inquisitive  eyes,  and 
the  natty  little  feet.  They  were  going  to  amuse  themselves 
all  summer  watching  its  nimble  movements,  its  ingenious 
way  of  shelling  nuts,  and  its  droll  play.  They  immediately 
made  ready  an  old  squirrel-cage,  with  a  little  green  house  and 
a  wire  cylinder-wheel.  The  little  house,  which  had  both 
doors  and  windows,  the  lady  squirrel  was  to  use  as  a  dining- 
room  and  bedroom.  Therefore  they  placed  therein  a  bed 
of  leaves,  a  bowl  of  milk,  and  some  nuts.  The  cylinder- 
wheel  she  was  to  use  as  a  playhouse,  where  she  could  run 
and  climb  and  swing  round. 

The  people  thought  they  had  arranged  things  very  com- 
fortably for  the  lady  squirrel,  and  they  were  astonished 
because  she  didn't  seem  to  be  contented;  but,  instead,  sat 



there,  downcast  and  moody,  in  a  corner  of  her  room. 
Every  now  and  again,  she  would  let  out  a  shrill,  agonized 
cry.  She  did  not  touch  the  food;  and  not  once  did  she 
swing  round  on  the  wheel.  "It's  probably  because  she's 
frightened,"  said  the  farmer  folk.  "To-morrow,  when  she 
feels  more  at  home,  she  will  both  eat  and  play." 

Meanwhile,  the  women  folk  on  the  farm  were  making 
preparation  for  a  feast;  and  the  very  day  the  lady  squirrel 
was  captured,  they  were  busy  with  an  elaborate  bake. 
They  had  had  bad  luck  with  something :  either  the  dough 
wouldn't  rise,  or  they  had  been  dilatory,  for  they  were 
obliged  to  work  till  long  after  dark. 

Naturally  there  was  a  great  deal  of  excitement  and  bustle 
in  the  kitchen,  and  probably  no  one  there  took  time  to  think 
about  the  squirrel,  or  to  wonder  how  she  was  faring.  But 
there  was  an  old  grandma  in  the  house  who  was  too  aged 
to  take  a  hand  in  the  baking;  this  she  herself  understood, 
but,  all  the  same  she  did  not  relish  the  idea  of  being  left 
out  of  the  game.  She  felt  rather  downhearted;  therefore 
she  did  not  go  to  bed  but  seated  herself  by  the  sitting-room 
window  to  look  out. 

They  had  opened  the  kitchen  door  on  account  of  the  heat; 
and  through  it  a  clear  ray  of  light  streamed  into  the  yard, 
which  made  it  so  light  out  there  that  the  old  woman  could 
see  all  the  cracks  and  holes  in  the  plastering  on  the  wall 
opposite.  She  also  saw  the  squirrel-cage,  which  hung  just 
where  the  light  fell  clearest.  And  she  noticed  how  the 
squirrel  ran  from  her  room  to  the  wheel,  and  from  the  wheel 
to  her  room,  all  night  long,  without  stopping  an  instant. 
She  thought  it  a  strange  sort  of  unrest  that  had  come 
over  the  animal;  but  she  believed,  of  course,  that  the  strong 
light  kept  it  awake. 


Between  the  cowhouse  and  the  stable  there  was  a  broad 
covered  carriage-gate;  this  too  came  within  the  light-radius. 
As  the  night  wore  on,  the  old  grandma  saw  a  tiny  creature, 
no  bigger  than  a  hand's  breadth,  cautiously  stealing  his  way 
through  the  gate.  He  was  dressed  in  leather  breeches 
and  wooden  shoes,  like  any  other  workingman.  The  old 
grandma  knew  at  once  that  it  was  the  elf,  and  she  was  not 
the  least  bit  frightened.  She  had  always  heard  that  the  elf 
kept  himself  somewhere  about  the  place,  although  she  had 
never  seen  him  before;  and  an  elf,  to  be  sure,  brought  good 
luck  wherever  he  appeared. 

As  soon  as  the  elf  came  into  the  stone-paved  yard,  he  ran 
straight  up  to  the  squirrel-cage.  And  since  it  hung  so  high 
that  he  could  not  reach  it,  he  went  over  to  the  storehouse 
after  a  rod;  placed  it  against  the  cage,  and  swung  himself 
up  —  in  the  same  way  that  a  sailor  climbs  a  rope.  When 
he  had  reached  the  cage,  he  shook  the  door  of  the  little 
green  house  as  if  to  open  it;  but  the  old  grandma  didn't 
move;  for  she  knew  that  the  children  had  put  a  padlock 
on  the  door,  as  they  feared  that  the  boys  from  the  neigh- 
bouring farms  would  try  to  steal  the  squirrel.  The  old 
woman  saw  that  when  the  boy  could  not  get  the  door  open 
the  lady  squirrel  came  out  to  the  wire  wheel,  where  they 
held  a  long  conference.  And  when  the  boy  had  listened  to 
all  that  the  imprisoned  animal  had  to  say  to  him,  he  slid 
down  the  rod  to  the  ground,  and  ran  out  through  the  carriage- 

The  old  woman  didn't  expect  to  see  anything  more  of 
the  elf  that  night,  nevertheless,  she  remained  at  the 
window.  In  a  few  moments  he  returned.  He  was  in 
such  a  hurry  that  it  seemed  to  her  as  if  his  feet  hardly 
touched  the  ground;  and  he  rushed  right  over  to  the 


squirrel-cage.  The  old  woman,  with  her  far-sighted  eyes, 
saw  him  distinctly;  and  she  also  saw  that  he  carried  some- 
thing in  his  hands;  but  what  it  was  she  couldn't  imagine. 
That  which  he  carried  in  his  left  hand  he  laid  down  on  the 
pavement;  but  that  which  he  held  in  his  right  hand  he  took 
with  him  to  the  cage.  He  kicked  so  hard  with  his  wooden 
shoes  on  the  little  window  that  the  glass  broke.  And  he 
pushed  toward  the  lady  squirrel  that  which  he  held  in  his 
hand.  Then  he  slid  down,  took  up  what  he  had  laid  upon  the 
ground,  and  climbed  to  the  cage  with  that  also.  The  next 
instant  he  ran  off  again  with  such  haste  that  the  old  woman 
could  hardly  follow  him  with  her  eyes. 

But  now  the  old  grandma  could  no  longer  sit  still  in  the 
cottage,  but  very  slowly  went  out  to  the  backyard  and 
stationed  herself  in  the  shadow  of  the  pump,  to  await  the 
elf's  return.  And  there  was  another  who  had  also  seen  him 
and  had  become  curious.  This  was  the  house  cat.  He  crept 
along  slyly,  and  stopped  close  to  the  wall,  just  two  steps 
away  from  the  stream  of  light.  The  two  of  them  stood  wait- 
ing long  and  patiently,  on  that  chilly  March  night,  and  the 
old  woman  was  just  beginning  to  think  about  going  in 
again  when  she  heard  a  clatter  on  the  pavement,  and  saw  the 
little  mite  of  an  elf  come  trotting  along  once  more,  carrying 
a  burden  in  each  hand,  as  he  had  done  before.  That  which 
he  bore  squealed  and  squirmed.  And  now  a  light  dawned 
on  the  old  grandma.  She  understood  that  the  elf  had 
hurried  down  to  the  hazel-grove  and  had  brought  back  the 
lady  squirrel's  babies,  and  that  he  was  carrying  them  to  her 
so  they  shouldn't  starve  to  death. 

The  old  grandma  stood  very  still,  so  as  not  to  disturb 
them;  and  it  appeared  as  if  the  elf  had  not  noticed  her.  He 
was  just  about  to  lay  one  of  the  babies  on  the  ground  so  that 



he  could  swing  himself  up  to  the  cage  with  the  other  one  — 
when  he  saw  the  house  cat's  green  eyes  glisten  close  beside 
him.  He  stood  there,  bewildered,  with  a  young  one  in 
each  hand. 

He  turned  and  looked  in  all  directions;  presently  he 
became  aware  of  the  old  grandma's  presence.  He  did 
not  hesitate  long  but  walked  forward,  stretched  his  arms 
as  high  as  he  could  reach  for  her  to  take  one  of  the  baby 

The  old  grandma  did  not  wish  to  prove  herself  unworthy  of 
the  confidence,  so  she  bent  down  and  took  the  baby  squirrel 
and  stood  there  and  held  it  until  the  boy  had  swung  himself 
up  to  the  cage  with  the  other  one.  Then  he  came  back  for 
the  one  he  had  entrusted  to  her  care. 

The  next  morning,  when  the  farm  folk  came  together 
for  breakfast,  it  was  impossible  for  the  old  woman  to  refrain 
from  telling  them  of  what  she  had  seen  the  night  before. 
They  all  laughed  at  her,  of  course,  and  said  that  she  had 
been  only  dreaming.  There  were  no  baby  squirrels  this 
early  in  the  year. 

But  she  was  sure  of  her  ground,  and  begged  them  to  take 
a  look  into  the  squirrel-cage,  which  they  did.  And  there, 
on  the  bed  of  leaves,  lay  four  tiny  half-naked,  half-blind 
baby  squirrels,  who  were  at  least  two  days  old. 

When  the  farmer  himself  saw  the  young  ones,  he  said: 
"Be  it  as  it  may  with  this;  but  one  thing  is  certain,  we, 
on  this  farm,  have  behaved  in  such  a  manner  that  we  are 
shamed  before  both  animals  and  human  beings."  And, 
thereupon,  he  took  the  mother  squirrel  and  all  her  young 
ones  from  the  cage,  and  laid  them  in  the  old  grandma's  lap. 
"Go  thou  out  to  the  hazel-grove  with  them,"  said  he,  "and 
let  them  have  their  freedom  back  again!" 


It  was  this  event  that  was  so  much  talked  about,  and 
which  even  got  into  the  newspapers,  but  which  the  majority 
would  not  credit  because  they  were  not  able  to  explain  how 
anything  like  that  could  have  happened. 


Saturday,   March  twenty-sixth. 

Two  days  later,  another  strange  thing  happened.  A 
flock  of  wild  geese  came  flying  one  morning,  and  lit  on  a 
meadow  down  in  Eastern  Skane  not  very  far  from  Vittskovle 
Manor.  In  the  flock  were  thirteen  wild  geese  of  the  usual 
gray  variety,  and  one  white  goosey-gander,  who  carried 
on  his  back  a  tiny  lad  dressed  in  yellow  leather  breeches, 
green  vest,  and  a  white  woollen  toboggan  hood. 

They  were  now  very  near  the  Baltic  Sea;  and  on  the 
meadow  where  the  geese  had  alighted  the  soil  was  sandy,  as 
it  usually  is  on  the  seacoast.  It  looked  as  if,  formerly, 
there  had  been  flying  sand  in  this  vicinity  which  had  to  be 
held  down;  for  in  several  directions  large,  planted  pine- 
woods  could  be  seen. 

When  the  wild  geese  had  been  feeding  a  while,  some 
children  came  walking  along  at  the  edge  of  the  meadow.  The 
goose  on  guard  at  once  rose  into  the  air  with  noisy  wing- 
strokes,  so  the  whole  flock  should  hear  that  there  was  danger 
afoot.  All  the  wild  geese  flew  upward;  but  the  white  one 
waddled  along  on  the  ground  unconcerned.  When  he  saw 
the  others  flying  he  raised  his  head  and  called  after  them: 
'You  needn't  fly  away  from  these!  They  are  only  a 
couple  of  children!" 

The  little  creature,  who  had  been  riding  on  his  back,  sat 
down  upon  a  knoll  on  the  outskirts  of  the  wood  and  picked  a 


pine-cone  to  pieces,  that  he  might  get  at  the  seeds.  The 
children  were  so  close  to  him  that  he  did  not  dare  run  across 
the  meadow  to  the  white  one,  but  concealed  himself  under 
a  big,  dry  thistle-leaf,  and  at  the  same  time  he  gave  a 
warning  cry.  The  white  one  had  evidently  made  up  his 
mind  not  to  let  himself  be  scared.  He  waddled  along  on  the 
ground  all  the  while;  and  not  once  did  he  look  to  see  in 
which  direction  they  were  going. 

Meanwhile,  they  turned  from  the  path  and  walked  across 
the  field,  getting  nearer  and  nearer  the  goosey-gander. 
When  he  finally  did  look  up,  they  were  right  upon  him.  He 
was  so  dumbfounded,  and  became  so  confused  that  he  forgot 
that  he  could  fly,  and  tried  to  get  out  of  their  reach  by 
running.  But  the  children  followed,  chasing  him  into  a 
ditch,  where  they  caught  him.  The  larger  of  the  two 
children  stuck  him  under  his  arm  and  carried  him  off. 

When  the  boy,  who  lay  under  the  thistle-leaf,  saw  this,  he 
sprang  up  as  if  to  take  the  goosey-gander  away  from  them; 
then  he  must  have  remembered  how  little  and  powerless  he 
was,  for  he  threw  himself  on  the  knoll  and  beat  the  ground 
with  his  clenched  fists. 

The  goosey -gander  cried  with  all  his  might  for  help: 
'Thumbietot,  come  and  help  me!  Oh,  Thumbietot,  come 
and  help  me!"  The  boy  began  to  laugh  in  the  midst  of  his 
distress.  "Oh,  yes!  I'm  just  the  right  one  to  help  any- 
body, I  am!"  said  he. 

Anyhow  he  got  up  and  followed  the  goosey -gander.  "I 
can't  help  him,"  he  said,  "but  I  shall  at  least  find  out  where 
they  are  taking  him." 

The  children  had  a  good  start;  but  the  boy  had  no  diffi- 
culty in  keeping  them  within  sight  until  they  came  to  a 
hollow  where  a  brook  gushed  forth.  But  here  he  was 


obliged  to  run  alongside  it  for  some  little  time,  before  he 
could  find  a  place  narrow  enough  for  him  to  jump  over. 

When  he  came  up  from  the  hollow  the  children  had  dis- 
appeared. He  could  see  their  footprints  on  a  narrow  path 
which  led  to  the  woods,  and  these  he  continued  to  follow. 

Soon  he  came  to  a  crossroad.  Here  the  children  must 
have  separated,  for  there  were  footprints  in  two  directions. 
The  boy  looked  now  as  if  all  hope  had  fled.  Then  he  saw  a 
little  white  down  on  a  heather-knoll,  and  understood  that 
the  goosey-gander  had  dropped  this  by  the  wayside  to  let 
him  know  in  which  direction  he  had  been  carried;  and  there- 
fore he  continued  his  search.  He  followed  the  children 
through  the  entire  wood.  The  goosey-gander  he  did  not 
see;  but  wherever  he  was  likely  to  miss  his  way,  lay  a  little 
white  down  to  put  him  right. 

The  boy  continued  faithfully  to  follow  the  bits  of  down. 
They  led  him  out  of  the  wood,  across  a  couple  of  meadows, 
into  a  road,  and  finally  through  the  entrance  of  a  broad 
avenue.  At  the  end  of  the  avenue  there  were  gables  and 
towers  of  red  tiling,  decorated  with  bright  borders  and  other 
ornamentations  that  glittered  and  shone.  When  the  boy  saw 
that  this  was  some  great  manor,  he  thought  he  knew  what 
had  become  of  the  goosey-gander.  "No  doubt  the  children 
have  carried  the  goosey-gander  to  the  manor  and  sold  him 
there.  By  this  time  he's  probably  butchered,"  he  said  to 
himself.  But  he  did  not  seem  to  be  satisfied  with  anything 
less  than  proof  positive,  and  with  renewed  courage  he  ran 
forward.  He  met  no  one  in  the  avenue  —  and  that  was  well, 
for  such  as  he  are  generally  afraid  of  being  seen  by  human 

The  mansion  which  he  came  to  was  a  splendid,  old-time 
structure  with  four  great  wings  which  inclosed  a  courtyard. 


On  the  east  wing,  there  was  a  high  arch  leading  into  the 
courtyard.  Thus  far  the  boy  had  run  without  hesitation,  but 
when  he  was  there  he  stopped.  He  dared  not  venture 
farther,  but  stood  still  and  pondered  what  he  should  do 

There  he  stood,  with  his  finger  on  his  nose,  thinking,  when 
he  heard  footsteps  behind  him ;  and  as  he  turned  around  he 
saw  a  whole  company  march  up  the  avenue.  Hastily 
he  stole  behind  a  water-barrel  which  stood  near  the  arch, 
and  hid  himself. 

Those  who  came  up  were  some  twenty  young  men  from  a 
folk  high-school,  out  on  a  pedestrian  tour.  They  were 
accompanied  by  one  of  the  instructors.  When  they  were 
come  as  far  as  the  arch,  the  teacher  requested  them  to  wait 
there  a  moment,  while  he  went  in  and  asked  if  they  might 
see  the  old  castle  of  Vittskovle. 

The  newcomers  were  warm  and  tired,  as  if  they  had  been 
on  a  long  tramp.  One  of  them  was  so  thirsty  that  he  went 
over  to  the  water-barrel  and  bent  down  to  drink.  He 
had  a  tin  box,  such  as  botanists  use,  suspended  from  his 
neck.  He  evidently  thought  it  was  in  his  way,  for  he 
threw  it  down  on  the  ground.  With  that  the  lid  flew  open, 
and  one  could  see  that  there  were  a  few  spring  flowers  inside. 

The  botanist's  tin  dropped  just  in  front  of  the  boy;  and 
he  saw  that  here  was  his  opportunity  to  get  into  the 
castle  and  find  out  what  had  become  of  the  goosey-gander. 
He  quickly  smuggled  himself  into  the  tin  and  concealed 
himself  as  well  as  he  could  under  the  anemones  and  colt's- 

He  was  barely  hidden  when  the  young  man  picked  up 
the  tin,  hung  it  around  his  neck,  and  slammed  down  the 


Then  the  teacher  came  back,  and  said  that  they  had  been 
given  permission  to  enter  the  castle.  At  first  he  conducted 
the  students  only  as  far  as  the  courtyard,  where  he  stopped 
and  began  to  talk  to  them  about  this  ancient  structure. 

He  told  them  of  how  the  first  human  beings  who  had 
inhabited  this  country,  had  been  obliged  to  live  in  mountain- 
grottoes  and  earth-caves;  in  the  dens  of  wild  beasts,  and  in 
the  brushwood;  and  that  a  very  long  period  had  elapsed 
before  they  learned  to  build  themselves  huts  from  the 
trunks  of  trees;  and  afterward,  how  long  they  had  been 
forced  to  labour  and  struggle  before  they  advanced  from 
the  log  cabin,  with  its  single  room,  to  the  building  of  a 
castle  with  a  hundred  rooms  —  like  Vittskovle. 

It  was  about  three  hundred  and  fifty  years  ago  that  the 
rich  and  powerful  built  such  castles  for  themselves,  he  said. 
It  was  obvious  that  Vittskovle  was  erected  at  a  time  when 
wars  and  robbers  made  it  unsafe  in  Skane.  All  around 
the  castle  was  a  deep  trench  filled  with  water;  and  across  this 
there  had  been  a  bridge  in  bygone  days  that  could  be  hoisted. 
Over  the  gate-arch  there  was  a  watch-tower  which  stands 
there  even  to  this  day;  and  all  along  the  sides  of  the 
castle  ran  sentry-galleries,  and  in  the  corners  stood  towers 
with  walls  a  metre  thick.  Yet  this  castle  was  not  erected 
in  the  most  savage  war  times;  for  Jens  Brahe,  who  built 
it,  had  taken  pains  to  make  of  it  a  beautiful  and  decora- 
tive ornament.  If  they  could  see  the  big,  solid  stone 
structure  at  Glimminge,  which  was  built  only  a  generation 
earlier,  they  would  readily  see  that  Jens  Holgersen  Ulf stand, 
the  builder,  hadn't  figured  upon  anything  else  than  to 
build  big  and  strong  and  secure  —  without  bestowing  a 
thought  upon  making  it  beautiful  and  comfortable.  If 
they  visited  such  castles  as  Marsvinsholm,  Snogeholm,  and 


Ovid  Cloister  —  which  were  erected  a  hundred  years  or  so 
later — they  would  find  that  the  times  had  become  less  war- 
like. The  gentleman  who  built  these  places  had  not  fur- 
nished them  with  fortifications;  but  had  only  taken  care  to 
provide  themselves  with  great,  splendid  dwelling  houses. 

The  teacher  talked  at  length  -  -  and  in  detail ;  and  the  boy 
who  lay  shut  up  in  the  tin  grew  pretty  impatient;  but  he 
must  have  lain  very  still,  for  the  owner  of  the  tin  hadn't  the 
least  suspicion  that  he  was  carrying  him  along. 

Finally  the  company  went  into  the  castle.  But  if  the 
boy  had  hoped  for  a  chance  to  crawl  out  of  that  tin  he  was 
mistaken ;  for  the  student  carried  it  upon  him  all  the  while, 
and  the  boy  was  obliged  to  accompany  him  through  all  the 
rooms.  It  was  a  tedious  tramp.  The  teacher  stopped 
every  other  minute  to  explain  and  instruct. 

In  one  room  he  found  an  old  fireplace,  and  before  this 
he  stopped  to  talk  about  the  different  kinds  of  fireplaces 
that  had  been  used  in  the  course  of  time.  The  first  indoors 
fireplace  was  a  big,  flat  stone  on  the  floor  of  the  hut, 
with  an  opening  in  the  roof  which  let  in  both  wind  and  rain. 
The  next  was  a  big  stone  hearth  with  no  opening  in  the 
roof.  This  must  have  made  the  hut  very  warm,  but  it  also 
filled  it  with  soot  and  smoke.  When  Vittskovle  was  built, 
the  people  had  advanced  far  enough  to  open  the  fireplace, 
which,  at  that  time,  had  a  wide  chimney  for  the  smoke;  but 
it  also  took  most  of  the  warmth  up  in  the  air  with  it. 

If  that  boy  had  ever  in  his  life  been  cross  and  impatient, 
he  was  given  a  good  lesson  in  patience  this  day.  It  must 
have  been  a  whole  hour  now  that  he  had  lain  perfectly 

In  the  next  room  they  came  to,  the  teacher  paused  before 
an  old-time  bed  with  its  high  canopy  and  rich  curtains. 


Immediately  he  began  to  talk  about  the  beds  and  bed 
places  of  olden  days. 

The  teacher  didn't  hurry  himself;  but  then,  he  did  not 
know,  of  course,  that  a  poor  little  creature  lay  shut  up  in  a 
botanist's  tin  only  waiting  for  him  to  get  through.  When 
they  came  to  a  room  with  gilded  leather  hangings,  he  talked 
to  them  of  how  the  people  had  dressed  their  walls  and  ceilings 
ever  since  the  beginning  of  time.  And  when  he  came  upon 
an  old  family  portrait,  he  told  them  all  about  the  different 
changes  in  dress.  And  in  the  banquet  hall  he  described 
ancient  customs  of  celebrating  weddings  and  funerals. 

Thereupon,  the  teacher  talked  a  little  about  the  excellent 
men  and  women  who  had  lived  in  the  castle:  about  the  old 
Brahes,  and  the  old  Barnekows;  of  Christian  Barnekow, 
who  had  given  his  horse  to  the  king  to  help  him  escape;  of 
Margareta  Ascheberg  who  had  been  married  to  Kjell 
Barnekow  and  who,  when  a  widow,  had  managed  the  estates 
and  the  whole  district  for  fifty -three  years;  of  banker  Hager- 
man,  a  farmer's  son  from  Vittskovle,  who  had  grown  so  rich 
that  he  had  bought  the  entire  estate;  of  the  Stjernsvards, 
who  had  given  the  people  of  Skane  better  ploughs,  which 
enabled  them  to  discard  the  ridiculous  old  wooden  ploughs 
that  three  span  of  oxen  were  hardly  able  to  drag.  During 
all  this,  the  boy  lay  still.  If  he  had  ever  been  mischievous 
and  shut  the  cellar  door  on  his  father  or  mother,  he  under- 
stood now  how  they  had  felt;  for  it  was  hours  and  hours 
before  that  teacher  got  through. 

At  last  the  teacher  went  out  into  the  courtyard  again. 
And  there  he  discoursed  upon  the  tireless  labour  of  mankind 
to  procure  for  themselves  tools  and  weapons,  clothes  and 
houses  and  ornaments.  He  said  that  an  old  castle  like 
Vittskovle  was  a  mile-post  on  time's  highway.  Here  one 


could  see  how  far  the  people  had  advanced  three  hundred 
and  fifty  years  ago;  and  one  could  judge  for  one's  self  if 
things  had  gone  forward  or  backward  since  their  time. 

But  this  dissertation  the  boy  escaped  hearing;  for  the 
student  who  carried  him  was  thirsty  again  and  stole  into  the 
kitchen  to  ask  for  a  drink  of  water.  Now  that  the  boy  had 
been  brought  to  the  kitchen,  he  should  have  tried  to  look 
around  for  the  goosey-gander.  He  had  begun  to  move; 
and  in  so  doing  he  happened  to  press  too  hard  against  the  lid 
—  and  it  flew  open.  Botanists'  tin-lids  are  always  flying 
open  so  the  student  paid  no  special  heed  to  this,  but  pressed 
it  down  again.  Then  the  cook  asked  him  if  he  had  a  snake 
in  the  box. 

"No,  I  have  only  a  few  plants,"  the  student  replied.  "It 
was  certainly  something  that  moved  there,"  insisted  the 
cook.  The  student  threw  back  the  lid  to  show  her  that  she 
was  mistaken.  "See  for  yourself  • — if " 

But  he  got  no  further,  for  now  the  boy  dared  not  stay 
in  the  box  any  longer,  but  with  a  bound  he  was  on  the 
floor,  and  out  he  rushed.  There  was  hardly  time  for  the 
maids  to  see  what  it  was  that  ran,  but  they  hurried  after  it, 

The  teacher  still  stood  and  talked  when  he  was  interrupted 
by  shrill  cries.  "Catch  him,  catch  him!'3'  shrieked  those 
who  had  come  from  the  kitchen ;  and  all  the  young  students, 
also,  raced  after  the  boy,  who  scurried  away  faster  than  a 
rat.  They  tried  to  intercept  him  at  the  gate,  but  it  was  not 
easy  to  get  hold  of  such  a  little  creature,  so,  luckily,  he  got 
out  into  the  open. 

The  boy  did  not  dare  to  run  down  toward  the  open  avenue 
but  turned  in  another  direction.  He  rushed  through  the 
garden  into  the  backyard.  All  the  while  the  people  raced 


after  him,  shrieking  and  laughing.  The  poor  little  thing 
ran  as  hard  as  ever  he  could  to  get  out  of  their  way ;  but  still 
it  looked  as  if  the  crowd  would  catch  up  with  him. 

As  he  was  hurrying  along  past  a  labourer's  cottage,  he 
heard  a  goose  cackle,  and  saw  a  white  down  lying  on  the 
doorstep.  There,  at  last,  was  the  goosey -gander !  He  had 
been  on  the  wrong  track  before.  He  thought  no  more  of 
housemaids  and  men  who  were  hounding  him,  but  climbed 
up  the  steps  into  the  hallway.  Farther  he  couldn't  come, 
for  the  door  was  locked.  He  heard  how  the  goosey -gander 
cried  and  moaned  inside,  but  he  couldn't  get  the  door 
open.  The  hunters  that  were  pursuing  him  came  nearer  and 
nearer,  and,  in  the  room,  the  goosey -gander  cried  more  and 
more  pitifully.  In  this  direst  of  needs  the  boy  finally  plucked 
up  courage  and  pounded  on  the  door  with  all  his  might. 

A  child  opened  it,  and  the  boy  looked  into  the  room.  In 
the  middle  of  the  floor  sat  a  woman  who  held  the  goosey- 
gander  tight  -  -  to  clip  his  quill-feathers.  It  was  her 
children  who  had  found  him,  and  she  didn't  want  to  do  him 
any  harm.  It  was  her  intention  to  let  him  in  among  hei 
own  geese  as  soon  as  his  wings  were  clipped,  so  he  couldn't 
fly  away.  But  a  worse  fate  could  hardly  have  happened 
to  the  goosey -gander,  and  he  shrieked  and  moaned  at  the 
top  of  his  voice. 

And  a  lucky  thing  it  was  that  the  woman  hadn't  started 
the  clipping  sooner.  Now  only  two  quills  had  fallen  under 
the  shears  when  the  door  opened  and  the  little  pigmy 
stood  on  the  threshold.  But  a  creature  like  that  the  woman 
had  never  seen  before.  She  couldn't  believe  but  that  it 
was  Goa-Nisse  himself;  and  in  her  terror  she  dropped  the 
shears,  clasped  her  hands  —  and  forgot  to  hold  on  to  the 


As  soon  as  he  felt  himself  freed,  he  ran  toward  the  door. 
He  didn't  give  himself  time  to  stop;  but,  as  he  ran  he 
grabbed  the  boy  by  the  neckband  and  carried  him  along 
with  him.  On  the  stoop  he  spread  his  wings  and  rose  up 
into  the  air;  at  the  same  time  he  made  a  graceful  sweep  with 
his  neck  and  seated  the  boy  on  his  smooth,  downy  back. 

And  off  they  flew  —  while  all  Vittskovle  stood  and  stared 
after  them. 


ALL  that  day,  while  the  wild  geese  played  with  the  fox, 
the  boy  lay  and  slept  in  a  deserted  squirrel  nest.  When  he 
awoke,  toward  evening,  he  felt  very  anxious.  "Well,  now 
I  shall  soon  be  sent  home!  Then,  after  all,  I'll  have  to 
exhibit  myself  before  father  and  mother,"  thought  he.  But 
when  he  looked  up  and  saw  the  wild  geese,  who  lay  bathing 
in  Vomb  Lake,  not  one  of  them  said  a  word  about  his  going. 
'They  probably  think  the  white  one  is  too  tired  to  travel 
home  writh  me  to-night,"  thought  the  boy. 

The  next  morning  the  geese  were  awake  at  daybreak,  long 
before  sunrise.  Now  the  boy  felt  sure  that  he'd  have  to  go 
home;  but,  curiously  enough,  both  he  and  the  white  goosey- 
gander  were  permitted  to  follow  the  wild  ones  on  their 
morning  jaunt.  The  boy  couldn't  comprehend  the  reason 
of  the  delay,  but  he  figured  it  out  in  this  way,  that  the  wild 
geese  did  not  care  to  send  the  goosey-gander  on  such  a  long 
journey  until  both  had  eaten  their  fill.  Come  what  might, 
he  was  only  glad  for  every  moment  that  should  pass  before 
he  must  face  his  parents. 

The  wild  geese  travelled  over  Ovid  Cloister  estate,  which 
was  situated  in  a  beautiful  park  east  of  the  lake,  and  which 
looked  very  imposing  with  its  great  castle;  its  well-planned 


court  surrounded  by  low  walls  and  pavilions;  its  fine  old-time 
garden  with  covered  arbours,  streams,  and  fountains;  its 
wonderful  trees,  trimmed  bushes,  and  its  evenly  mown 
lawns  with  their  beds  of  beautiful  spring  flowers. 

As  the  wild  geese  flew  over  the  estate  in  the  early  morning 
hour  there  was  no  human  being  about.  When  they  had 
carefully  assured  themselves  of  this,  they  sank  toward  the 
dog  kennel,  and  shouted:  "What  kind  of  a  little  hut  is 
this?  What  kind  of  a  little  hut  is  this?  " 

Instantly  the  dog  came  out  of  his  kennel  —  furiously 
angry  —  and  barked  at  the  air. 

"  Do  you  call  this  a  hut,  you  tramps!  Can't  you  see  that 
this  is  a  great  stone  castle?  Can't  you  see  what  fine  terraces, 
and  what  a  lot  of  pretty  walls  and  windows  and  great 
doors  it  has,  bow,  wow,  wow,  wow?  Don't  you  see  the 
grounds,  can't  you  see  the  garden,  can't  you  see  the  conser- 
vatories, can't  you  see  the  marble  statues?  You  call  this  a 
hut,  do  you?  Do  huts  have  parks  with  beech-groves  and 
hazel-bushes  and  trailing  vines  and  oak  trees  and  firs  and 
hunting-grounds  filled  with  game,  wow,  wow,  wow?  Do 
you  call  this  a  hut?  Have  you  seen  huts  with  so  many 
outhouses  around  them  that  they  look  like  a  whole  village? 
You  must  know  of  a  lot  of  huts  that  have  their  own  church 
and  their  own  parsonage,  and  that  rule  over  the  district 
and  the  peasant  homes  and  the  neighbouring  farms  and 
barracks,  wow,  wow,  wow?  Do  you  call  this  a  hut?  To 
this  hut  belong  the  richest  possessions  in  Skane,  you  beg- 
gars! You  can't  see  a  bit  of  land,  from  where  you  hang  in 
the  clouds,  that  does  not  obey  commands  from  this  hut, 
wow,  wow,  wow!" 

All  this  the  dog  managed  to  cry  out  in  one  breath;  while 
the  wild  geese  flew  back  and  forth  over  the  estate,  and  Us- 


tened  to  him  until  he  was  winded.,  But  then  they  cried: 
"What  are  you  so  mad  about?  We  didn't  ask  about  the 
castle;  we  only  wanted  to  know  about  your  kennel,  stupid!" 

When  the  boy  heard  this  joke,  he  laughed;  then  a  thought 
stole  in  on  him  which  at  once  made  him  serious.  'Think 
how  many  of  these  funny  things  you  would  hear,  if  only  you 
could  go  with  the  wild  geese  through  the  whole  country, 
all  the  way  up  to  Lapland!"  he  said  to  himself.  "And  just 
now,  when  you  are  in  such  a  bad  fix,  a  trip  like  that  would 
be  the  best  thing  you  could  hit  upon." 

The  wild  geese  flew  over  to  one  of  the  wide  fields,  east  of 
the  estate,  to  eat  grass-roots,  and  this  they  kept  up  for 
hours.  In  the  meantime,  the  boy  wandered  in  the  great 
park  which  bordered  the  fields.  He  hunted  up  a  beech- 
nut grove  and  began  to  look  up  at  the  bushes,  to  see  if  a 
nut  from  last  fall  still  hung  there.  But  again  and  again  the 
thought  of  the  trip  came  over  him,  as  he  walked  in  the  park. 
He  pictured  to  himself  what  a  fine  time  he  would  have  if  he 
went  with  the  wild  geese.  To  freeze  and  starve:  that  he 
believed  he  should  have  to  do  often  enough;  but  as  a  reward 
he  would  escape  both  work  and  study. 

As  he  walked  there,  the  old  gray  leader-goose  came  up  to 
him  and  asked  if  he  had  found  anything  eatable.  No,  that 
he  hadn't,  he  replied,  and  then  she  tried  to  help  him.  She 
couldn't  find  any  nuts  either,  but  she  discovered  a  couple  of 
dried  blossoms  that  hung  on  a  brier-bush.  These  the  boy 
ate  with  a  good  relish.  But  he  wondered  what  mother 
would  say,  if  she  knew  that  he  had  lived  upon  raw  fish  and 
old  winter-dried  blossoms. 

When  the  wild  geese  had  finally  eaten  all  they  could  hold, 
they  bore  off  toward  the  lake  again,  where  they  amused 
themselves  with  games  until  almost  dinner  time. 


The  wild  geese  challenged  the  white  goosey-gander  to 
take  part  in  all  kinds  of  sports.  They  had  swimming  races, 
running  races,  and  flying  races  with  him.  The  big  tame 
one  did  his  level  best  to  hold  his  own,  but  the  clever  wild 
geese  beat  him  every  time.  All  the  while,  the  boy  sat  on 
the  goosey-gander's  back  and  encouraged  him,  and  he  had 
as  much  fun  as  the  rest.  They  laughed  and  screamed  and 
cackled,  and  it  was  remarkable  that  the  people  on  the  estate 
did  not  hear  them. 

When  the  wild  geese  were  tired  of  play,  they  flew  out  on 
the  ice  to  rest  a  few  hours.  The  afternoon  they  spent 
in  much  the  same  way  as  the  forenoon.  First,  a  couple 
of  hours  feeding,  then  bathing  and  play  in  the  water,  near 
the  ice-edge,  until  sunset,  when  they  immediately  arranged 
themselves  for  sleep. 

'This  is  just  the  life  for  me,"  thought  the  boy  as  he 
crept  in  under  the  gander's  wing.  "But  by  to-morrow,  I 
suppose  I'll  be  sent  home." 

Before  he  fell  asleep,  he  lay  thinking  that  if  only  he 
might  go  along  with  the  wild  geese  he  would  escape  all 
scoldings  because  he  was  lazy.  Then  he  could  cut  loose 
every  day,  and  his  only  worry  would  be  to  get  something  to 
eat.  But  he  needed  so  little  nowadays;  and  there  would 
always  be  a  way  to  get  that. 

So  he  pictured  the  whole  scene  to  himself;  what  he  would 
see,  and  all  the  adventures  that  he  would  be  in  on.  Yes, 
it  would  be  something  different  from  the  wear  and  tear  at 
home.  "If  I  could  only  go  with  the  wild  geese  on  their 
travels,  I  shouldn't  grieve  because  I'd  been  transformed," 
thought  the  boy. 

He  wasn't  afraid  of  anything  —  except  being  sent  home; 
but  not  even  on  Wednesday  did  the  geese  say  anything 


to  him  about  going.  That  day  passed  in  the  same  way  as 
Tuesday;  and  the  boy  grew  more  and  more  contented  with 
the  outdoor  life.  He  was  thinking  that  here  he  had  the 
lovely  Ovid  Cloister-Park,  which  was  as  large  as  a  forest, 
all  to  himself;  and  he  wasn't  anxious  to  go  back  to  the 
stuffy  cabin  and  the  little  patch  of  ground  there  at  home. 

On  Wednesday  he  firmly  believed  that  the  wild  geese 
thought  of  keeping  him;  but  on  Thursday  he  lost  hope 

Thursday  began  just  like  the  other  days;  the  geese  fed 
on  the  broad  meadows,  and  the  boy  hunted  for  food  in  the 
park.  After  a  while  Akka  came  to  him,  and  asked  if  he 
had  found  anything  to  eat.  No,  he  had  not;  and  then  she 
looked  up  a  dry  caraway  herb,  which  had  kept  all  its  tiny 
seeds  intact. 

When  the  boy  had  finished  eating,  Akka  said  that  she 
thought  he  ran  around  in  the  park  altogether  too  recklessly. 
She  wondered  if  he  knew  how  many  enemies  he  had  to 
guard  against  —  he,  who  was  so  little.  No,  he  didn't  know 
anything  at  all  about  that.  Then  Akka  began  to  enumerate 

Whenever  he  walked  in  the  park,  she  said  that  he  must 
look  out  for  the  fox  and  the  marten;  when  he  came  to  the 
shores  of  the  lake,  he  must  think  of  the  otters;  when  seated 
on  the  stone  wall,  he  must  not  forget  the  weasels,  who  can 
crawl  through  the  smallest  holes;  and  if  he  wished  to  lie 
down  and  sleep  on  a  pile  of  leaves,  he  must  first  find  out  if 
the  adders  were  not  sleeping  their  winter  sleep  in  the  same 
pile.  As  soon  as  he  came  out  into  the  open  fields,  he  was  to 
keep  an  eye  out  for  hawks  and  buzzards;  for  eagles  and 
falcons  that  soar  in  the  air.  In  the  bramble-bush  he  could 
be  captured  by  the  sparrow-hawk;  magpies  and  crows  were 


to  be  found  everywhere,  and  in  these  he  mustn't  place  too 
much  confidence.  As  soon  as  it  was  dusk,  he  must  keep 
his  ears  open  and  listen  for  the  big  owls,  who  flew  along  with 
such  soundless  wing-strokes  that  they  could  come  right 
upon  him  before  he  was  aware  of  their  presence. 

When  the  boy  heard  that  there  were  so  many  who  were 
after  his  life,  he  comprehended  that  it  would  be  well-nigh 
impossible  for  him  to  escape.  He  was  not  especially  afraid 
to  die,  but  he  didn't  like  the  idea  of  being  eaten  up,  so  he 
asked  Akka  what  he  should  do  to  protect  himself  from 
carnivorous  animals. 

Akka  answered  at  once  that  the  boy  should  try  to  get  on 
good  terms  with  all  the  smaller  animals  in  woods  and  fields : 
with  the  squirrel  folk,  and  the  hare  family;  with  bull- 
finches and  titmice  and  woodpeckers  and  larks.  If  he 
made  friends  with  them,  they  could  warn  him  against 
dangers,  find  hiding-places  for  him,  and  protect  him. 

But,  later  in  the  day,  when  the  boy  tried  to  profit  by  this 
counsel  and  turned  to  Sirle  Squirrel  to  ask  for  his  protection, 
it  was  plain  that  he  did  not  care  to  help  him.  "You  surely 
can't  expect  anything  from  me,  or  the  rest  of  the  small 
animals!"  said  Sirle.  "Don't  you  think  we  know  that  you 
are  Nils  the  goose  boy,  who  tore  down  the  swallow's  nest 
last  year,  crushed  the  starling's  eggs,  threw  baby  crows  in  the 
marl-ditch,  caught  thrushes  in  snares,  and  put  squirrels  in 
cages?  You  just  help  yourself  as  best  you  can;  and  you 
may  be  thankful  that  we  do  not  form  a  league  against  you, 
and  drive  you  back  to  your  own  kind!'3 

This  was  just  the  sort  of  answer  the  boy  would  not  have 
let  go  unpunished,  in  the  days  when  he  was  Nils,  the  goose 
boy.  But  now  he  was  only  fearful  lest  the  wild  geese,  too, 
had  found  out  how  wicked  he  could  be.  He  had  been  so 


anxious  lest  he  shouldn't  be  permitted  to  stay  with  the  wild 
geese  that  he  hadn't  dared  to  get  into  the  least  little  mis- 
chief since  joining  their  company.  It  was  true  that  he 
didn't  have  the  power  to  do  much  harm  now,  but,  little  as 
he  was,  he  could  have  destroyed  many  birds'  nests  and 
crushed  many  eggs,  if  he'd  been  a  mind  to.  Now  he  had 
been  good.  He  hadn't  pulled  a  feather  from  a  goose-wing, 
or  given  any  one  a  rude  answer;  and  every  morning  when 
calling  upon  Akka,  he  had  always  removed  his  cap,  and 

All  day  Thursday  he  kept  thinking  it  was  surely  on 
account  of  his  wickedness  that  the  wild  geese  did  not  care 
to  take  him  along  up  to  Lapland.  And  that  evening,  when 
he  heard  that  Sirle  Squirrel's  wife  had  been  stolen,  and  her 
children  were  starving  to  death,  he  made  up  his  mind  to  help 
them.  We  have  already  been  told  how  well  he  succeeded. 

When  the  boy  came  into  the  park  on  Friday,  he  heard  the 
bullfinches  sing  in  every  bush,  of  how  Sirle  Squirrel's  wife 
had  been  carried  away  from  her  children  by  cruel  robbers, 
of  how  Nils,  the  goose  boy,  had  risked  his  life  among 
human  beings  in  taking  the  little  squirrel  children  to 

"And  who  is  so  honoured  in  Ovid  Cloister-Park  now,  as 
Thumbietot!"  sang  the  bullfinch;  "he,  whom  all  feared  when 
he  was  Nils  the  goose  boy.  Sirle  Squirrel  will  give  him  nuts; 
the  poor  hares  are  going  to  play  with  him;  the  small  wild 
animals  will  carry  him  on  their  backs,  and  fly  away  with  him 
when  Smirre  Fox  approaches.  The  titmice  are  going  to  warn 
him  against  the  hawk,  and  the  finches  and  larks  will  sing  of 
his  valour." 

The  boy  was  absolutely  certain  that  both  Akka  and  the 
wild  geese  had  heard  all  this.  And  yet,  the  whole  Friday 


passed  without  one  word  said  as  to  his  remaining  with 

Up  until  Saturday  the  wild  geese  had  fed  in  the  fields 
around  Ovid,  undisturbed  by  Smirre  Fox. 

But  Saturday  morning,  when  they  came  out  into  the 
meadow,  he  lay  in  wait  for  them,  and  chased  them  from  one 
field  to  another,  so  that  they  were  not  allowed  to  eat  in 
peace.  When  Akka  understood  that  he  didn't  intend  that 
they  should  be  left  in  peace,  she  quickly  came  to  a  decision, 
rose  into  the  air,  and  off  she  flew  with  her  flock  over  Ears' 
plains  and  Linderod's  hills.  They  did  not  stop  until  they 
had  arrived  in  the  district  of  Vittskovle. 

But  at  Vittskovle  the  goosey-gander  was  stolen,  and  how 
it  happened  has  already  been  related.  If  the  boy  hadn't 
used  all  his  wits  to  help  him,  he  would  never  again  have 
been  found. 

On  Saturday  evening,  when  the  boy  returned  to  Vomb 
Lake  with  the  goosey-gander,  he  thought  that  he  had  done 
a  good  day's  work,  and  wondered  much  what  Akka  and 
the  wild  geese  would  say  to  him.  The  wild  geese  were  not 
at  all  sparing  in  their  praises,  but  they  did  not  speak  the 
word  he  was  longing  to  hear. 

Then  Sunday  came  around  again.  A  whole  week  had 
gone  by  since  the  boy  had  become  bewitched,  and  he  was 
still  just  as  little. 

But  he  didn't  appear  to  be  giving  himself  any  extra  worry 
because  of  this.  Sunday  afternoon  he  sat  huddled  up 
in  a  big,  fluffy  osier-bush,  down  by  the  lake,  and  blew  on  a 
reed-pipe.  All  around  him  there  sat  as  many  finches  and 
bullfinches  and  starlings  as  the  bush  could  well  hold  —  who 
sang  songs  which  he  tried  to  teach  himself  to  play.  But  the 
boy  was  not  at  home  in  this  art.  He  blew  so  false  that  the 


feathers  raised  themselves  on  all  the  little  music-masters, 
who  shrieked  and  fluttered  in  their  despair.  The  boy 
laughed  so  heartily  at  their  excitement  that  he  dropped 
his  pipe.  He  tried  it  again,  and  this  time  too  it  went  just  as 
badly.  Then  all  the  little  birds  wailed:  'To-day  you  play 
worse  than  usual,  Thumbietot?  You  don't  take  one  true 
note!  Where  are  your  thoughts,  Thumbietot?'1 

"They  are  elsewhere,"  said  the  boy  —  and  that  was  true. 
He  sat  there  and  pondered  how  long  he  should  be  allowed 
to  remain  with  the  wild  geese;  or  if  he  would  be  sent  home 
perhaps  to-day. 

Finally  the  boy  threw  down  his  pipe  and  jumped  from 
the  bush.  He  had  seen  Akka  and  all  the  other  wild  geese 
coming  toward  him  in  a  long  row.  They  walked  so  uncom- 
monly slow  and  dignified-like  that  the  boy  immediately 
understood  that  now  he  should  learn  what  they  intended  to 
do  with  him. 

When  they  finally  paused  Akka  said:  'You  may  well 
have  reason  to  wonder  at  me,  Thumbietot,  who  have  not 
said  thanks  to  you  for  saving  me  from  Smirre  Fox.  But  I 
am  one  of  those  who  would  rather  give  thanks  in  deeds  than 
in  words.  I  have  sent  word  to  the  elf  that  bewitched  you. 
At  first  he  didn't  want  to  hear  anything  about  curing  you; 
but  I  have  sent  message  upon  message  to  him,  telling  him 
how  well  you  have  conducted  yourself  among  us.  He 
greets  you,  and  says  that  as  soon  as  you  turn  back  home 
you  shall  be  human  again." 

But  think  of  it!  Just  as  happy  as  the  boy  had  been 
when  the  wild  goose  began  to  speak,  just  that  miserable 
was  he  when  she  had  finished.  He  didn't  say  a  word,  but 
turned  away  and  wept. 

"What  in  all  the  world  does  this  mean?"  said  Akka. 


'It  appears  as  though  you  were  expecting  more  of  me  than 
I  have  offered  you." 

But  the  boy  was  thinking  of  the  carefree  days  and  the 
banter;  of  adventure  and  freedom  and  travel,  high  above 
the  earth,  that  he  should  miss,  and  he  actually  bawled 
with  grief.  "  I  don't  want  to  be  human,"  said  he.  "  I  want 
to  go  with  you  to  Lapland."  "I'll  tell  you  something," 
said  Akka.  'That  elf  is  very  touchy,  and  I'm  afraid  that 
if  you  do  not  accept  his  offer  now,  it  will  be  difficult  for  you 
to  coax  him  another  time." 

It  was  a  strange  thing  about  that  boy  —  as  long  as  he 
had  lived,  he  had  never  cared  for  any  one.  He  had  not 
cared  for  his  father  or  mother;  not  for  the  school  teacher; 
not  for  his  schoolmates;  nor  for  the  boys  in  the  neighbour- 
hood. All  that  they  had  wished  to  have  him  do  —  whether 
it  had  been  work  or  play  —  he  had  only  thought  tiresome. 
Therefore  there  was  no  one  whom  he  missed  or  longed  for. 

The  only  ones  that  he  had  come  anywhere  near  agreeing 
with,  were  Osa,  the  goose  girl,  and  little  Mats  —  a  couple 
of  children  who  had  tended  geese  in  the  fields,  like  him- 
self. But  he  didn't  care  particularly  for  them  either. 
No,  far  from  it!  "I  don't  want  to  be  human,"  bawled  the 
boy.  "I  want  to  go  with  you  to  Lapland.  That's  why 
I've  been  good  for  a  whole  week ! "  "I  don't  want  to  forbid 
you  to  come  along  with  us  as  far  as  you  like,"  said  Akka, 
:'but  think  first  if  you  wouldn't  rather  go  home  again.  A 
day  may  come  when  you  will  regret  this." 

"No,"  said  the  boy,  "that's  nothing  to  regret.  I  have 
never  been  so  well  off  as  here  with  you." 

'Well  then,  let  it  be  as  you  wish,"  said  Akka. 

'Thanks!"  said  the  boy,  and  he  felt  so  happy  that  he  had 
to  cry  for  very  joy  —  just  as  he  had  cried  before  with  sorrow. 








IN  SOUTHEASTERN  SKANE,  not  far  from  the  sea, 
there  is  an  old  castle  called  Glimminge.  It  is  a  big 
substantial  stone  structure;  and  can  be  seen  over  the  plain 
for  miles  around.  It  is  not  more  than  four  stories  high; 
but  it  is  so  ponderous  that  an  ordinary  farmhouse,  which 
stands  on  the  same  estate,  looks  like  a  little  children's  play- 
house by  comparison. 

The  big  stone  house  has  such  thick  ceilings  and  walls 
that  there  is  scarcely  room  in  its  interior  for  anything  but 
the  thick  walls.  The  stairs  are  narrow,  the  entrances 
small,  and  the  rooms  few.  That  the  walls  might  retain  their 
strength,  there  are  only  the  fewest  number  of  windows  in  the 
upper  stories,  and  none  at  all  are  to  be  found  in  the  lower 
ones.  In  the  old  war  times,  the  people  were  just  as  glad 
that  they  could  shut  themselves  up  in  a  strong  and  massive 
house  like  this  as  one  is  nowadays  to  be  able  to  creep  into 
furs  in  a  snapping  cold  winter.  But  when  the  time  of  peace 
came,  they  did  not  care  to  live  in  the  dark  and  cold  stone 
halls  of  the  old  castle  any  longer.  They  have  long  since 
deserted  the  big  Glimminge  Castle,  and  moved  into  dwelling 
places  where  light  and  air  can  penetrate. 

At  the  time  that  Nils  Holgersson  wandered  around  with 
the  wild  geese,  there  were  no  human  beings  in  Glimminge 



Castle;  but  for  all  that,  it  was  not  without  inhabitants. 
Every  summer  there  lived  a  stork  couple  in  a  large  nest  on 
the  roof.  In  a  nest  in  the  attic  lived  a  pair  of  gray  owls, 
in  the  secret  passages  hung  bats ;  in  the  kitchen  oven  lived 
an  old  cat;  and  down  in  the  cellar  there  were  hundreds  of 
old  black  rats. 

Rats  are  not  held  in  very  high  esteem  by  other  animals; 
but  the  black  rats  at  Glimminge  Castle  were  the  exception. 
They  were  always  mentioned  with  respect,  because  they 
had  shown  great  valour  in  battle  with  their  enemies,  and 
great  endurance  under  the  terrible  misfortunes  which  had 
befallen  their  kind.  They  nominally  belonged  to  a  rat 
folk  that  at  one  time  had  been  very  numerous  and  powerful 
but  were  now  dying  out.  During  a  long  period  of  time,  the 
black  rats  owned  Skane  and  the  whole  country.  They 
were  to  be  found  in  every  cellar;  in  every  attic;  in  larders 
and  cowhouses  and  barns;  in  breweries  and  flour-mills; 
in  churches  and  castles;  in  every  man-constructed  building. 
But  now  they  were  banished  from  all  this  —  and  were  almost 
extinct.  Only  in  one  and  another  old  and  secluded  spot 
could  one  run  across  a  few  of  them ;  and  nowhere  were  they 
to  be  found  in  such  large  numbers  as  in  Glimminge  Castle. 

When  an  animal  folk  die  out,  it  is  generally  the  human 
kind  who  are  the  cause  of  it;  but  such  was  not  the  case  in 
this  instance.  The  people  had  certainly  struggled  with  the 
black  rats,  but  they  had  not  been  able  to  do  them  any  harm 
worth  mentioning.  Those  who  had  conquered  them  were 
an  animal  folk  of  their  own  kind,  called  gray  rats. 

These  gray  rats  had  not  lived  in  the  land  from  time  im- 
memorial, like  the  black  rats,  but  were  descended  from  a 
couple  of  poor  immigrants  who  had  landed  in  Malmo  from  a 
Libyan  sloop  about  a  hundred  years  ago.  They  were 


homeless,  starved-out  wretches  that  stuck  close  to  the  har- 
bour, swam  in  among  the  piles  under  the  bridges,  and  ate 
refuse  that  had  been  thrown  in  the  water.  They  never 
ventured  into  the  city,  which  was  owned  by  the  black  rats. 

But  gradually,  as  the  gray  rats  increased  in  number,  they 
grew  bolder.  At  first  they  moved  over  to  some  waste 
places  and  condemned  old  houses  which  the  black  rats  had 
abandoned.  They  hunted  their  food  in  gutters  and  dirt 
heaps,  and  made  the  most  of  all  the  rubbish  which  the  black 
rats  did  not  deign  to  take  care  of.  They  were  hardy,  con- 
tented and  fearless;  and  within  a  few  years  they  had  become 
so  powerful  that  they  undertook  to  drive  the  black  rats 
out  of  Malmo.  They  took  from  them  attics,  cellars,  and 
storerooms,  starved  them  out  or  bit  them  to  death,  for 
they  were  not  at  all  afraid  of  fighting. 

When  Malmo  was  captured,  they  marched  forward  in 
small  and  large  companies  to  conquer  the  whole  country.  It 
is  almost  impossible  to  comprehend  why  the  black  rats  did 
not  muster  themselves  into  a  great,  united  war-expedition 
to  exterminate  the  gray  rats,  while  these  were  still  few  in 
number.  But  the  black  rats  were  so  certain  of  their  power 
that  they  could  not  believe  it  possible  for  them  to  lose  it. 
They  sat  still  on  their  estates,  and,  in  the  meantime,  the 
gray  rats  took  from  them  farm  after  farm,  city  after  city. 
They  were  starved  out,  forced  out,  rooted  out.  In  Skane 
they  had  not  been  able  to  maintain  themselves  in  a  single 
place  except  Glimminge  Castle. 

The  old  castle  had  such  secure  walls  and  such  few  rat 
passages  led  through  these  that  the  black  rats  had  managed 
to  protect  themselves,  and  to  prevent  the  gray  rats  from 
crowding  in.  Night  after  night,  year  after  year,  the  struggle 
had  continued  between  the  aggressors  and  the  defenders; 


but  the  black  rats  had  kept  faithful  watch,  and  had  fought 
with  the  utmost  contempt  for  death,  and,  thanks  to  the 
fine  old  house,  they  had  always  conquered. 

It  will  have  to  be  acknowledged  that  so  long  as  the  black 
rats  were  in  power  they  were  as  much  shunned  by  all  other 
living  creatures  as  the  gray  rats  are  in  our  day  —  and  for 
just  cause;  they  had  thrown  themselves  upon  poor,  fettered 
prisoners,  and  tortured  them;  they  had  ravished  the  dead; 
they  had  stolen  the  last  turnip  from  the  cellars  of  the  poor; 
bitten  off  the  feet  of  sleeping  geese;  stolen  eggs  and  chicks 
from  the  hens ;  and  had  committed  a  thousand  depredations. 
But  since  they  had  come  to  grief,  all  this  seemed  to  have  been 
forgotten ;  and  no  one  could  help  but  marvel  at  the  last  of  a 
race  that  had  held  out  so  long  against  its  enemies. 

The  gray  rats  that  lived  in  the  courtyard  at  Glimminge 
and  in  the  neighbourhood,  kept  up  a  continuous  warfare  and 
were  always  on  the  watch  for  every  possible  chance  to  cap- 
ture the  castle.  One  should  think  that  they  would  have 
allowed  the  little  company  of  black  rats  to  occupy  Glim- 
minge Castle  in  peace,  since  they  themselves  had  acquired 
all  the  rest  of  the  country;  but  you  may  be  sure  this  thought 
never  occurred  to  them.  They  were  wont  to  say  that  it  was 
a  point  of  honour  with  them  to  conquer  the  black  rats  at 
some  time  or  other.  But  those  who  were  acquainted  with 
the  gray  rats  must  have  known  that  it  was  because  the 
human  kind  used  Glimminge  Castle  as  a  storehouse  for 
grain  that  the  gray  ones  could  not  rest  until  they  had 
gained  possession  of  the  place. 


Monday,  March  twenty -eighth. 

EARLY  one  morning  the  wild  geese,  who  stood  and  slept 
on  the  ice  in  Vomb  Lake,  were  awakened  by  long  calls  from 


the  air.  'Trirop,  Trirop!"  it  sounded.  'Trianut,  the 
crane,  sends  greetings  to  Akka,  the  wild  goose,  and  her  flock. 
To-morrow  will  be  the  day  of  the  great  Crane  Dance  on 

Akka  raised  her  head  and  answered  at  once:  "Greetings 
and  thanks!  Greetings  and  thanks!'5 

With  that,  the  cranes  flew  farther;  and  the  wild  geese 
heard  them  for  a  long  time,  while  they  travelled  and  called 
out  over  every  field,  and  every  wooded  hill:  "Trianut 
sends  greetings.  To-morrow  will  be  the  day  of  the  great 
Crane  Dance  on  Kullaberg." 

The  wild  geese  were  very  happy  over  this  invitation. 
"You're  in  luck,"  they  said  to  the  white  goosey -gander,  "to 
be  permitted  to  attend  the  great  Crane  Dance  on  Kulla- 
berg!" "Is  it  then  so  remarkable  to  see  cranes  dance?" 
asked  the  goosey-gander.  "It  is  something  that  you  have 
never  even  dreamed  about!"  replied  the  wild  geese. 

"Now  we  must  think  out  what  we  shall  do  with  Thum- 
bietot  to-morrow,  so  that  no  harm  will  come  to  him  while 
we  run  over  to  Kullaberg,"  said  Akka.  'Thumbietot  shall 
not  be  left  alone!"  said  the  goosey -gander.  "If  the  cranes 
won't  let  him  see  their  dance,  then  I'll  stay  here  with  him." 

"No  human  being  has  ever  been  permitted  to  attend  the 
Animals'  Congress,  at  Kullaberg,"  said  Akka,  "and  I 
shouldn't  dare  to  take  Thumbietot  along.  But  we'll  discuss 
this  more  at  length  later  in  the  day.  Now  we  must  first 
and  foremost  think  about  getting  something  to  eat." 

With  that  Akka  gave  the  signal  to  adjourn.  On  this 
day  she  also  sought  her  feeding-place  a  good  distance  away, 
on  Smirre  Fox's  account,  and  she  didn't  alight  until  she 
came  to  the  swampy  meadows  a  little  to  the  south  of  Glim- 
minge  Castle. 


All  that  day  the  boy  sat  on  the  shores  of  a  little  pond, 
and  blew  on  reed-pipes.  He  was  out  of  sorts  because  he 
shouldn't  see  the  Crane  Dance,  and  he  just  couldn't  say  a 
word,  either  to  the  goosey-gander  or  to  any  of  the 

It  was  mighty  hard  that  Akka  should  still  doubt  him. 
When  a  boy  had  given  up  being  human,  just  to  travel  around 
with  a  few  miserable  wild  geese,  they  surely  ought  to  under- 
stand that  he  had  no  desire  to  betray  them.  Then,  too, 
they  ought  to  realize  that  when  he  had  renounced  so  much  to 
follow  them,  it  was  their  duty  to  let  him  see  all  the  wonders 
they  could  show  him. 

"I'll  have  to  speak  my  mind  right  out  to  them,"  thought 
he.  But  hour  after  hour  passed  by  still  he  hadn't  come 
round  to  it.  It  may  sound  remarkable  —  but  the  boy  had 
actually  acquired  a  kind  of  respect  for  the  old  leader-goose. 
He  felt  that  it  was  not  easy  to  pit  his  will  against  hers. 

On  one  side  of  the  swampy  meadow,  where  the  wild 
geese  fed,  there  was  a  broad  stone  hedge.  Toward  evening, 
when  the  boy  finally  raised  his  head  to  speak  to  Akka,  his 
glance  happened  to  rest  on  this  hedge.  He  uttered  a  little 
cry  of  surprise,  and  instantly  all  the  wild  geese  looked  up, 
and  stared  in  the  same  direction.  At  first,  both  the  geese 
and  the  boy  thought  that  all  the  round,  gray  stones  in  the 
hedge  had  acquired  legs  and  had  started  on  a  run;  but  soon 
they  saw  that  a  company  of  rats  was  running  there.  They 
moved  very  rapidly,  and  ran  forward  packed  tightly,  line 
upon  line,  and  they  were  so  many  that,  for  some  time,  they 
covered  the  entire  stone  hedge. 

The  boy  had  been  afraid  of  rats,  even  when  he  was  a  big, 
strong  human  being.  Then  what  must  his  feelings  be  now, 
when  he  was  so  tiny  that  two  or  three  of  them  could  over- 


power  him!  One  shudder  after  another  travelled  down  his 
spinal  column  as  he  stood  and  stared  at  them. 

But  strangely  enough,  the  wild  geese  seemed  to  feel  the 
same  aversion  toward  the  rats  that  he  did.  They  did  not 
speak  to  them ;  and  when  they  were  gone,  they  shook  them- 
selves as  if  their  feathers  had  been  mud-bespattered. 

"So  many  gray  rats  abroad!"  said  Iksi  from  Vassijaure. 
'That's  not  a  good  omen." 

The  boy  meant  to  take  advantage  of  this  opportunity  to 
say  to  Akka  that  he  thought  she  ought  to  let  him  go  with 
them  to  Kullaberg,  but  he  was  prevented  anew,  for  all  of  a 
sudden  a  big  bird  came  down  among  the  geese. 

One  could  think,  when  looking  at  this  bird,  that  he 
had  borrowed  body,  neck,  and  head  from  a  little'  white 
goose.  But  in  addition,  he  had  procured  for  himself  large 
black  wings,  long  red  legs,  and  a  thick  bill,  which  was  too 
large  for  the  little  head,  and  weighted  it  down  until  it  gave 
him  a  sad  and  worried  look. 

Akka  at  once  straightened  out  the  folds  of  her  wings,  and 
courtesied  many  times  as  she  approached  the  stork.  She 
wasn't  especially  surprised  to  see  him  in  Skane  so  early  in 
the  spring,  because  she  knew  that  the  male  storks  always 
come  over  in  good  season  to  have  a  look  at  the  nest,  to 
make  sure  that  it  has  suffered  no  damage  during  the  winter, 
before  the  female  storks  go  to  the  trouble  of  flying  over  the 
Baltic.  But  she  very  much  wondered  what  could  be  the 
meaning  of  his  seeking  her  out,  since  storks  prefer  to  asso- 
ciate with  members  of  their  own  family. 

"I  can  hardly  believe  that  there  is  anything  amiss  with 
your  house,  Herr  Ermenrich,"  said  Akka. 

Now  it  was  apparent  that  the  old  saying  is  true:  A 
stork  seldom  opens  his  bill  without  complaining.  But  that 


which  made  the  things  he  said  sound  all  the  more  doleful 
was,  that  it  was  difficult  for  him  to  speak  up.  He  stood 
a  long  time  and  only  clattered  with  his  bill;  afterward  he 
spoke  in  a  hoarse  and  feeble  voice.  He  complained  about 
everything:  the  nest,  which  was  situated  at  the  very  top 
of  the  roof-tree  at  Glimminge  Castle,  had  been  totally 
destroyed  by  winter  storms;  and  no  food  could  he  get  any 
more  in  Skane.  The  people  of  Skane  were  appropriating 
all  his  possessions.  They  dug  out  his  marshes  and  laid 
waste  his  swamps.  He  intended  to  move  away  from  this 
country,  and  never  return  to  it  again. 

While  the  stork  grumbled,  Akka,  the  wild  goose,  who  had 
neither  home  nor  protection,  could  not  help  thinking  to  her- 
self: "If  I  had  things  as  comfortable  as  you  have,  Herr 
Ermenrich,  I  should  be  above  complaining.  You  have 
remained  a  free  and  wild  bird;  and  yet  you  stand  so  well 
with  human  beings  that  none  will  fire  a  shot  at  you,  or  steal 
an  egg  from  your  nest."  But  all  this  she  kept  to  herself. 
To  the  stork  she  only  remarked  that  she  couldn't  believe 
he  would  be  willing  to  move  from  a  house  where  storks  had 
resided  ever  since  it  was  built. 

Then  the  stork  suddenly  asked  the  geese  if  they  had  seen 
the  gray  rats  who  were  marching  toward  Glimminge  Castle. 
When  Akka  replied  that  she  had  seen  the  horrid  creatures, 
he  began  to  tell  her  all  about  the  brave  black  rats  who,  for 
years,  had  defended  the  castle.  "But  this  night  Glim- 
minge Castle  will  fall  into  the  gray  rats'  power,"  sighed  the 

"And  why  just  this  night,  Herr  Ermenrich?"  asked 

'Well,  because  nearly  all  the  black  rats  went  over  to 
Kullaberg  last  night,"  said  the  stork,  "since  they  counted 


on  all  the  rest  of  the  animals  also  hurrying  there.  But 
you  see  that  the  gray  rats  have  stayed  at  home;  and  now 
they  are  mustering  to  storm  the  castle  to-night,  when  it  will 
be  defended  by  only  a  few  old  creatures  who  are  too  feeble 
to  go  over  to  Kullaberg.  They'll  probably  accomplish 
their  purpose.  But  I  have  lived  there  in  harmony  with  the 
black  rats  so  many  years  that  the  idea  of  living  in  a  place 
inhabited  by  their  enemies  is  not  agreeable  to  me." 

Akka  understood  now  that  the  stork  had  become  so 
enraged  over  the  gray  rats'  mode  of  action  that  he  had 
sought  her  out  as  an  excuse  to  complain  about  them.  But 
after  the  manner  of  storks,  he  had  certainly  done  nothing 
to  avert  the  disaster.  "Have  you  sent  word  to  the  black 
rats,  Herr  Ermenrich?'!  she  asked.  "No,"  replied  the 
stork,  "that  would  be  of  no  use.  Before  they  can  get  back, 
the  castle  will  be  taken."  "You  mustn't  be  so  sure  of 
that,  Herr  Ermenrich,"  said  Akka.  "I  know  an  old  wild 
goose,  I  do,  who  would  gladly  prevent  outrages  of  this  kind." 

When  Akka  said  that,  the  stork  raised  his  head  and 
stared  at  her.  And  it  was  not  surprising,  for  Akka  had 
neither  claws  nor  bill  that  were  fit  for  fighting;  and,  in  the 
bargain,  she  was  a  day  bird,  and  as  soon  as  it  grew  dark 
she  fell  helplessly  asleep,  while  the  rats  did  their  fighting  at 

But  Akka  had  evidently  made  up  her  mind  to  help  the 
black  rats.  She  called  Iksi  from  Vassijaure,  and  ordered 
him  to  take  the  wild  geese  over  to  Vomb  Lake;  and  when 
the  geese  made  excuses,  she  said  authoritatively:  :'I 
believe  it  will  be  best  for  us  all  that  you  obey  me.  I  must 
fly  over  to  the  big  stone  house,  and  if  you  follow  me,  the 
people  on  the  place  will  be  sure  to  see  us,  and  shoot  us  down. 
The  only  one  that  I  want  to  take  with  me  on  this  trip  is 


Thumbietot.  He  can  be  of  great  service  to  me  because  he 
has  good  eyes,  and  can  keep  awake  at  night." 

The  boy  was  in  his  most  contrary  mood  that  day.  And 
when  he  heard  what  Akka  said,  he  raised  himself  to  his  full 
height  and  stepped  forward,  his  hands  behind  him  and  his 
nose  in  the  air;  for  he  intended  to  say  that  he  most 
decidedly  did  not  wish  to  take  a  hand  in  the  fight  with  gray 
rats.  She  might  look  around  for  assistance  elsewhere. 

But  the  instant  the  boy  was  seen,  the  stork  began  to 
move.  He  had  stood  before,  as  storks  generally  stand, 
with  head  bent  downward  and  the  bill  pressed  against  the 
neck.  But  now  a  gurgle  was  heard  deep  down  in  his 
windpipe,  as  though  he  would  have  laughed.  Quick  as  a 
flash,  he  lowered  his  bill,  grabbed  the  boy,  and  tossed  him  a 
couple  of  metres  into  the  air.  This  feat  he  performed  seven 
times,  while  the  boy  shrieked  and  the  geese  shouted: 
'  What  are  you  trying  to  do,  Herr  Ermenrich?  That's  not  a 
frog.  That's  a  human  being,  Herr  Ermenrich.lf 

Finally  the  stork  put  the  boy  down,  entirely  unhurt. 
Thereupon  he  said  to  Akka:  "Now  I'll  fly  back  to  Glim- 
minge  Castle,  Mother  Akka.  All  who  live  there  were  very 
much  worried  when  I  left.  You  may  be  sure  they'll  be 
very  glad  when  I  tell  them  that  Akka,  the  wild  goose,  and 
Thumbietot,  the  human  elf,  are  on  their  way  to  rescue 
them."  With  that  the  stork  craned  his  neck,  spread  his 
wings,  and  darted  off  like  an  arrow  when  it  leaves  a  well- 
drawn  bow.  Akka  understood  that  he  was  making  fun  of 
her,  but  she  didn't  let  it  bother  her.  She  waited  until  the 
boy  had  found  his  wooden  shoes,  which  the  stork  had  shaken 
off;  then  she  put  him  on  her  back  and  followed  the  stork. 
On  his  own  account,  the  boy  made  no  objection,  and  said 
not  a  word  about  not  wanting  to  go  along.  He  had  become 


so  furious  with  the  stork  that  he  actually  sat  and  puffed. 
That  long,  red-legged  thing  believed  he  was  of  no  account 
just  because  he  was  little;  but  he  would  show  him  what 
kind  of  a  man  Nils  Holgersson  from  West  Vemmenhog 

A  couple  of  moments  later  Akka  stood  in  the  storks'  nest 
at  Glimminge  Castle.  It  was  a  fine,  large  nest.  It  had  a 
wheel  as  foundation,  and  over  this  lay  several  grass  mats, 
and  some  twigs.  The  nest  was  so  old  that  many  shrubs  and 
plants  had  taken  root  up  there;  and  when  the  mother  stork 
sat  on  her  eggs  in  the  round  hole  in  the  middle  of  the  nest, 
she  not  only  had  the  beautiful  outlook  over  a  goodly  portion 
of  Skane  to  enjoy,  but  she  had  also  the  wild  brier-blossoms 
and  house-leeks  to  look  upon. 

Both  Akka  and  the  boy  saw  immediately  that  something 
was  going  on  here,  which  turned  up  and  down  in  the  most 
regular  order.  At  the  edge  of  the  stork-nest  sat  two  gray 
owls,  an  old,  gray -streaked  cat,  and  a  dozen  old,  decrepit 
rats  with  protruding  teeth  and  watery  eyes.  They  were 
not  exactly  the  sort  of  animals  one  usually  finds  living 
peaceably  together. 

Not  one  among  them  turned  to  look  at  Akka,  or  to  bid 
her  welcome.  They  thought  of  nothing  except  to  sit  and 
stare  at  some  long,  gray  lines,  which  hove  into  sight  here 
and  there  -  -  on  the  winter-naked  meadows. 

All  the  black  rats  were  silent.  It  was  plain  that  they 
were  in  deep  despair,  and  probably  knew  that  they  could 
defend  neither  their  own  lives  nor  the  castle.  The  two 
owls  sat  and  rolled  their  big  eyes,  and  twisted  their  great, 
encircling  eyebrows,  as  they  talked  in  hollow,  ghost-like 
voices  about  the  awful  cruelty  of  the  gray  rats,  and  of  how 
they  would  have  to  move  away  from  their  nest,  since  they 


had  heard  it  said  of  them  that  they  spared  neither  eggs  nor 
baby  birds.  The  old  gray-streaked  cat  was  sure  that  the 
gray  rats  would  bite  him  to  death,  since  they  were  coming 
into  the  castle  in  such  great  numbers,  and  he  kept  scolding 
the  black  rats  all  the  while.  "How  could  you  be  so  idiotic 
as  to  let  your  best  fighters  go  away?"  said  he.  "How 
could  you  trust  the  gray  rats?  It  is  absolutely  unpar- 

The  twelve  black  rats  did  not  say  a  word.  But  the 
stork,  despite  his  misery,  could  not  refrain  from  teasing  the 
cat.  "Don't  worry  so,  Tommy  House-cat!"  said  he. 
"Can't  you  see  that  Mother  Akka  and  Thumbietot  have 
come  to  save  the  castle?  You  may  be  certain  that  they'll 
succeed.  Now  I  must  stand  up  to  sleep  —  and  I  do  so 
with  the  utmost  calm.  To-morrow,  when  I  awaken,  there 
won't  be  a  single  gray  rat  left  in  Glimminge  Castle." 

The  boy  winked  at  Akka,  and  made  a  sign  —  as  the  stork 
stood  at  the  very  edge  of  the  nest,  with  one  leg  drawn  up  for 
sleep  —  that  he  wanted  to  push  him  down  to  the  ground ; 
but  Akka  restrained  him.  She  did  not  seem  to  be  the  least 
bit  angry.  Instead,  she  said  in  a  confident  tone  of  voice: 
'It  would  be  pretty  poor  business  if  one  who  is  as  old  as  I 
am  could  not  manage  to  get  out  of  worse  difficulties  than 
this.  If  only  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Owl,  who  can  stay  awake  all 
night,  will  fly  off  with  a  couple  of  messages  for  me,  I  think 
that  all  will  go  well." 

Both  owls  were  willing.  Then  Akka  bade  the  gentleman 
owl  go  seek  the  black  rats  who  had  gone  off,  and  counsel 
them  to  hurry  home  immediately.  The  lady  owl  he  sent 
to  Flammea,  the  steeple  owl,  who  lived  in  Lund  Cathedral, 
with  a  commission  which  was  so  secret  that  Akka  dared 
confide  it  to  her  only  in  a  whisper. 



IT  was  drawing  on  toward  midnight  when  the  gray  rats, 
after  a  diligent  search,  succeeded  in  finding  an  open  air-hole 
which  led  to  the  cellar.  This  was  rather  high  upon  the 
wall;  but  the  rats  formed  a  rat-ladder  and  it  wasn't  long 
before  the  most  daring  among  them  sat  in  the  air-hole,  ready 
to  force  its  way  into  Glimminge  Castle  outside  whose  walls 
so  many  of  its  forebears  had  fallen. 

The  gray  rat  sat  still  a  moment  in  the  hole,  awaiting  an 
attack  from  within.  The  commanders  of  the  defenders 
was  surely  away,  but  she  took  for  granted  that  the  black 
rats  who  were  still  in  the  castle  would  not  surrender  without 
a  struggle.  With  thumping  heart,  she  listened  for  the 
slightest  sound,  but  all  was  still.  Then  the  leader  of  the 
gray  rats  plucked  up  courage  and  jumped  down  into  the 
coal-black  cellar. 

One  after  another  the  gray  rats  followed  the  leader. 
They  all  kept  very  quiet;  and  all  expected  to  be  ambushed 
by  the  black  rats.  Not  until  so  many  of  them  had  crowded 
into  the  cellar  that  the  floor  could  hold  no  more,  did  they 
venture  farther. 

Although  they  had  never  before  been  inside  the  building, 
they  had  no  difficulty  in  finding  their  way.  They  soon 
found  the  passages  in  the  walls  which  the  black  rats  had 
used  to  get  to  the  upper  floors.  Before  they  began  to 
clamber  up  these  narrow  and  steep  steps,  they  listened 
again  with  great  attention.  They  felt  more  frightened  at 
the  black  rats  holding  themselves  aloof  in  this  way  than 
if  they  had  met  them  in  open  battle.  They  could  hardly 
believe  their  luck  when  they  had  reached  the  first  story 
without  mishaps. 


Immediately  upon  their  entrance  the  gray  rats  scented 
the  grain,  which  was  stored  in  great  bins  on  the  floor.  But 
it  was  not  yet  time  for  them  to  enjoy  their  conquest. 
They  searched  first,  with  the  utmost  caution,  through  the 
sombre,  empty  rooms.  They  ran  up  into  the  fireplace, 
which  stood  on  the  floor  in  the  old  castle  kitchen,  and  they 
almost  tumbled  into  the  well,  in  the  inner  room.  Not  one 
of  the  narrow  peep-holes  did  they  leave  uninspected,  but 
they  found  no  black  rats.  When  this  floor  was  wholly  in 
their  possession,  they  began,  with  the  same  caution,  to 
acquire  the  next.  Then  they  had  to  venture  on  a  bold  and 
dangerous  climb  through  the  walls,  while,  with  breathless 
anxiety,  they  awaited  an  assault  from  the  enemy.  And 
although  they  were  tempted  by  the  most  delicious  odour 
from  the  grain  bins,  they  forced  themselves  most  systemati- 
cally to  inspect  the  old-time  warriors'  pillar-propped  kitchen; 
their  stone  table  and  fireplace;  the  deep  window-niches, 
and  the  hole  in  the  floor  —  which  in  olden  times  had  been 
opened  to  pour  down  boiling  pitch  on  the  intruding  enemy. 

All  this  time  the  black  rats  were  invisible.  The  gray  ones 
groped  their  way  to  the  third  story,  and  into  the  lord  of  the 
castle's  great  banquet  hall,  which  stood  there  cold  and  empty 
like  all  the  other  rooms  in  the  old  house.  They  even  groped 
their  way  to  the  upper  story,  which  had  but  one  big,  barren 
room.  The  only  place  they  did  not  think  of  exploring  was 
the  big  stork-nest  on  the  roof  —  where,  just  at  this  time, 
the  lady  owl  awakened  Akka,  and  informed  her  that  Flam- 
mea,  the  steeple  owl,  had  granted  her  request,  and  had  sent 
her  the  thing  she  wished  for. 

Since  the  gray  rats  had  so  conscientiously  inspected  the 
entire  castle,  they  felt  at  ease.  They  took  for  granted  that 
the  black  rats  had  fled,  and  that  they  would  offer  no 


resistance.     So  with  light  hearts,  they  ran  up  into  the  grain 

But  the  gray  rats  had  hardly  swallowed  the  first  wheat- 
grains,  when  the  sound  of  a  little  shrill  pipe  was  heard  from 
the  courtyard.  The  gray  rats  raised  their  heads,  listened 
anxiously,  ran  a  few  steps,  as  if  to  leave  the  bin,  then  they 
turned  back  and  began  to  eat  once  more. 

Again  the  pipe  sounded  a  sharp  and  piercing  note  —  and 
now  something  wonderful  happened.  One  rat,  two  rats  - 
yes,  a  whole  lot  of  rats  left  the  grain,  jumped  from  the  bins 
and  hurried  down  cellar  by  the  shortest  cut,  to  get  out  of 
the  house.  Still  there  were  many  gray  rats  left.  These 
thought  of  all  the  toil  and  trouble  it  had  cost  them  to  win 
Glimminge  Castle,  and  they  did  not  want  to  leave  it.  But 
again  they  caught  the  tones  from  the  pipe,  and  had  to  follow 
them.  Wildly  excited,  they  rushed  up  from  the  bins,  slid 
down  through  the  narrow  holes  in  the  walls,  tumbling  over 
each  other  in  their  eagerness  to  get  out. 

In  the  middle  of  the  courtyard  stood  a  tiny  creature,  who 
blew  upon  a  pipe.  All  around  him  was  a  whole  circle  of 
rats  who  listened  to  him  astonished  and  fascinated;  and 
each  moment  brought  more.  Once  he  took  the  pipe  from 
his  lips  —  only  for  a  second  —  put  his  thumb  to  his  nose 
and  wiggled  his  fingers  at  the  gray  rats;  and  then  it  looked 
as  if  they  were  ready  to  throw  themselves  on  him  and  bite 
him  to  death ;  but  as  soon  as  he  blew  on  his  pipe  they  were 
in  his  power. 

When  the  tiny  creature  had  played  all  the  gray  rats  out 
of  Glimminge  Castle,  he  began  to  wander  slowly  from  the 
courtyard  out  into  the  highway ;  and  all  the  gray  rats  followed 
him,  because  the  tones  from  that  pipe  sounded  so  sweet  to 
their  ears  that  they  could  not  resist  them. 


The  tiny  creature  walked  before  them  and  charmed  them 
along  on  the  road  to  Vallby.  He  led  them  into  all 
sorts  of  crooks  and  turns  and  bends  —  on  through  hedges 
and  down  into  ditches  —  and  wherever  he  went,  they  had 
to  follow.  He  blew  continuously  on  his  pipe,  which 
appeared  to  be  made  from  an  animal's  horn,  although  the 
horn  was  so  small  that  there  were  no  animals  in  our  day 
from  whose  foreheads  it  could  have  been  broken.  Nor  did 
any  one  know  who  had  made  it.  Flammea,  the  steeple 
owl,  had  found  it  in  a  niche,  in  Lund  Cathedral.  She  had 
shown  it  to  Bataki,  the  raven;  and  the  two  of  them  had 
figured  out  that  this  was  the  kind  of  horn  that  was  used  in 
former  times  by  those  who  wished  to  gain  power  over  rats 
and  mice.  But  the  raven  was  Akka's  friend;  and  it  was  from 
him  she  had  learned  that  Flammea  owned  such  a  treasure. 

And  it  was  true  that  the  rats  could  not  resist  the  pipe. 
The  boy  walked  before  them  and  played  as  long  as  the  star- 
light lasted  —  and  all  the  while  they  followed  him.  He 
played  at  daybreak;  he  played  at  sunrise;  and  the  whole 
time  the  entire  procession  of  gray  rats  followed  him,  and 
were  enticed  farther  and  father  away  from  the  big  grain 
loft  at  Glimminge  Castle. 



Tuesday,  March  twenty-ninth. 

\  I/THOUGH  there  are  many  magnificent  structures 
JL\.  in  Skane,  it  must  be  granted  that  not  one  among 
them  has  such  pretty  walls  as  old  Kullaberg. 

Kullaberg  is  low  and  rather  long.  It  is  by  no  means  a  big 
or  imposing  mountain.  On  its  broad  summit  you'll  find 
woods  and  grain  fields,  and  one  and  another  heather- 
heath.  Here  and  there,  round  heather-knolls  and  barren 
cliffs  rise  up.  It  is  not  especially  pretty  up  there.  It 
looks  very  much  like  all  the  other  upland  places  in  Skane. 

He  who  walks  along  the  road  which  runs  across  the  middle 
of  the  mountain  can't  help  but  feel  a  little  disappointed. 
Then  mayhap  he  turns  from  the  path,  wanders  off 
toward  the  mountain's  sides  and  looks  down  over  the 
bluffs;  and  then,  all  at  once,  he  discovers  so  much 
that  is  worth  seeing  he  hardly  knows  how  he'll  find  time 
to  take  in  the  whole  of  it.  For  it  happens  that  Kulla- 
berg does  not  stand  on  the  land,  with  plains  and  valleys 
around  it,  like  other  mountains;  but  it  has  plunged  into  the 
sea,  as  far  out  as  it  can  get.  Not  even  the  tiniest  strip  of 
land  lies  below  the  mountain  to  protect  it  against  the 
breakers;  for  these  reach  all  the  way  up  to  the  mountain 
walls,  and  can  polish  and  mould  them  to  suit  themselves. 
This  is  why  the  walls  stand  there  as  richly  ornamented  as  the 
sea  and  its  helpmeet,  the  wind,  have  been  able  to  effect. 



You'll  find  steep  ravines  deeply  chiselled  in  the  mountain's 
sides;  and  black  crags  that  have  become  smooth  and  shiny 
under  the  constant  lashing  of  the  winds.  There  are  solitary 
rock-columns  that  spring  straight  up  out  of  the  water, 
and  dark  grottoes  with  narrow  entrances;  there  are  barren, 
perpendicular  precipices,  and  soft,  leaf -clad  inclines;  there 
are  small  points,  and  small  inlets,  and  small  rolling  stones 
that  are  rattlingly  washed  up  and  down  with  every  dashing 
breaker;  there  are  majestic  cliff-arches  which  project  over 
the  water;  there  are  sharp  stones  that  are  constantly  being 
sprayed  by  a  white  foam ;  and  others  that  mirror  themselves 
in  unchangeable  dark-green  still  water.  There  are  also 
giant  troll-caverns  shaped  in  the  rock,  and  great  crevices 
that  tempt  the  wanderer  to  venture  into  the  mountain's: 
depths,  all  the  way  to  Kullman's  Hollow. 

And  over  and  around  all  these  rocky  steeps  creep 
entangled  tendrils  and  weeds.  Trees  grow  there  also,  but 
the  wind's  power  is  so  great  that  the  trees  have  to  transform 
themselves  into  clinging  vines,  that  they  may  get  a  firmer 
hold  on  the  steep  precipices.  The  oaks  creep  along  on  the 
ground,  while  their  foliage  hangs  over  them  like  a  low  ceiling; 
and  long-limbed  beeches  stand  in  the  ravines  like  great 
leafy  tents. 

These  remarkable  mountain  walls,  with  the  blue  sea 
beneath  them  and  the  clear  penetrating  air  above  them, 
are  what  make  Kullaberg  so  dear  to  the  people  that  great 
crowds  haunt  the  place  every  day  as  long  as  the  summer  lasts. 
But  it  is  more  difficult  to  tell  what  it  is  that  makes  the  place 
so  attractive  to  animals  that  every  year  they  gather  there 
for  a  big  play-meeting.  This  is  a  custom  which  has  been 
observed  from  time  immemorial;  and  one  should 
have  been  there  when  the  first  sea-wave  was  dashed  into 


foam  against  the  shore,  to  be  able  to  explain  why  just 
Kullaberg  was  chosen  as  a  meeting  ground  in  preference  to 
all  other  places. 

When  the  meeting  is  to  take  place,  the  stags  and  roe- 
bucks and  hares  and  foxes  and  all  the  other  four-footers 
make  the  journey  to  Kullaberg  the  night  before,  so  as  not 
to  be  observed  by  the  human  kind.  Just  before  sunrise 
they  all  march  up  to  the  playground,  which  is  a  heather- 
heath  on  the  left  side  of  the  road,  and  not  very  far  from  the 
mountain's  outermost  point.  The  playground  is  inclosed 
on  all  sides  by  round  knolls,  which  conceal  it  from  any  and 
all  who  do  not  happen  to  come  right  upon  it.  And  in  the 
month  of  March  it  is  not  at  all  likely  that  any  pedestrian 
will  stray  off  up  there.  All  strangers  who  at  other  times 
stroll  around  on  the  rocks  and  clamber  up  the  mountain 
side,  the  fall  storms  have  driven  away  these  many  months. 
The  lighthouse  keeper  out  there,  on  the  point;  the  oldfru 
on  the  mountain  farm,  and  the  mountain  peasant  and  his 
house  folk  go  their  accustomed  ways,  and  do  not  run  about 
on  the  desolate  heaths. 

When  the  four-footers  have  arrived  on  the  playground, 
they  take  their  places  on  the  round  knolls.  Each  animal 
family  keeps  to  itself,  although  it  is  understood  that  on  a 
day  like  this  universal  peace  reigns,  and  none  need  fear 
attack.  On  this  day  a  little  hare  might  wander  over  to  the 
foxes'  hill,  without  losing  so  much  as  one  of  its  long  ears. 
All  the  same  the  animals  arrange  themselves  into  separate 
groups.  This  is  an  old  custom. 

After  all  have  taken  their  places,  they  begin  to  look 
around  for  the  birds.  It  is  always  beautiful  weather  on 
this  day.  The  cranes  are  good  weather  prophets,  and 
would  not  call  the  animals  together  if  rain  was  expected. 


Although  the  air  is  clear  and  nothing  obstructs  the  vision, 
the  four-footers  see  no  birds.  This  is  strange.  The  sun 
is  high  in  the  heavens,  and  the  birds  should  already  be 
on  their  way. 

However,  what  the  animals  do  observe  is  one  and  another 
little  dark  cloud  slowly  advancing  over  the  plain.  And 
look !  one  of  these  clouds  comes  suddenly  along  the  coast  of 
Oresund,  and  up  toward  Kullaberg.  When  the  cloud  has 
come  just  above  the  playground  it  stops,  and  all  of  a  sudden 
the  entire  cloud  begins  to  ring  and  chirp,  as  if  it  were  made 
up  of  nothing  but  tone.  It  rises  and  sinks,  rises  and  sinks, 
but  all  the  while  it  rings  and  chirps.  At  last  the  whole 
cloud  falls  down  over  a  knoll  —  all  at  once  —  the  next 
instant  the  knoll  is  entirely  covered  with  gray  larks,  pretty 
red-gray-white  bullfinches,  speckled  starlings  and  greenish- 
yellow  titmice. 

Soon  after  that,  another  cloud  conies  over  the  plain.' 
This  stops  over  every  bit  of  land :  over  peasant  cottage  and 
palace;  over  towns  and  cities;  over  farms  and  railway 
stations;  over  fishing  hamlets  and  sugar  refineries.  Every 
time  it  stops,  it  draws  to  itself  a  little  whirling  column  of 
gray  dust-grains  from  the  ground.  Thus  it  grows  and 
grows.  And  at  last,  when  it  is  all  gathered  up  and 
heads  for  Kullaberg,  it  is  no  more  a  cloud  but  a  whole  mist 
which  is  so  big  that  it  throws  a  shadow  on  the  ground  all  the 
way  from  Hoganas  to  Molle.  WTien  it  stops  over  the  play- 
ground it  hides  the  sun;  and  for  a  long  while  it  had  to  rain 
gray  sparrows  on  one  of  the  knolls  before  those  who  had 
been  flying  in  the  innermost  part  of  the  mist  could  again 
catch  a  glimpse  of  the  daylight. 

But  still  the  biggest  of  these  bird-clouds  is  the  one  which 
now  appears.  This  is  formed  of  birds  who  have  travelled 


from  every  direction  to  join  it.  It  is  dark  bluish-gray,  and 
no  sun-ray  can  penetrate  it.  And  it  is  full  of  the  ghastliest 
noises,  the  most  frightful  shrieks,  the  grimmest  laughter, 
and  most  ill-luck-boding  croaking!  All  on  the  playground 
are  glad  when  it  finally  resolves  itself  into  a  storm  of  flutter- 
ing and  croaking:  of  crows  and  jackdaws  and  rooks  and 

Thereupon  not  only  clouds  are  seen  in  the  heavens,  but 
also  a  variety  of  stripes  and  figures.  Then  straight,  dotted 
lines  appear  in  the  East  and  Northeast.  These  are  forest- 
birds  from  the  Goinge  districts:  black  grouse  and  wood 
grouse  come  flying  in  long  lines  a  couple  of  metres  apart. 
Swimming-birds  that  live  around  Maklappen,  just  out  of 
Falsterbo,  now  come  floating  over  Oresund  in  many 
extraordinary  figures:  in  triangular  and  long  curves;  in 
sharp  hooks  and  semicircles. 

To  the  great  reunion  held  the  year  that  Nils  Holgersson 
travelled  around  with  the  wild  geese,  came  Akka  and  her 
flock  —  later  than  all  the  others.  And  that  was  not  to  be 
wondered  at,  for  Akka  had  to  fly  over  the  whole  of  Skane  to 
get  to  Kullaberg.  Besides,  as  soon  as  she  awoke,  she  was 
obliged  to  go  out  and  hunt  for  Thumbietot,  who,  for  many 
hours,  had  gone  and  played  to  the  gray  rats,  and  lured 
them  far  away  from  Gliniminge  Castle.  Mr.  Owl  had 
returned  with  the  news  that  the  black  rats  would  be  at 
home  immediately  after  sunrise;  and  now  it  was  quite  safe 
to  let  the  steeple  owl's  pipe  be  hushed,  and  to  give  the  gray 
rats  the  liberty  of  going  where  they  pleased. 

It  was  not  Akka  who  discovered  the  boy,  where  he  walked 
with  his  long  following,  and  quickly  sank  down  over  him 
and  caught  him  up  with  the  bill  and  swung  into  the  air;  but 
Herr  Ermenrich,  the  stork!  For  Herr  Ermenrich  had  also 


gone  out  to  look  for  him.  And  after  he  had  borne  him  up  to 
the  stork-nest,  he  begged  his  forgiveness  for  having  treated 
him  with  disrespect  the  evening  before. 

This  pleased  the  boy  immensely,  and  the  stork  and  he 
became  good  friends.  Akka,  too,  showed  that  she  felt  very 
kindly  toward  him;  she  stroked  her  old  head  several  times 
against  his  arms,  and  commended  him  because  he  had 
helped  those  who  were  in  trouble. 

But  this  much  must  be  said  to  the  boy's  credit:  he  did  not 
want  to  accept  praise  which  he  had  not  earned.  "No, 
Mother  Akka,"  he  said,  "y°u  mustn't  think  that  I  lured  the 
gray  rats  away  to  help  the  black  ones.  I  only  wanted  to 
show  Herr  Ermenrich  that  I  was  of  some  consequence." 

No  sooner  had  he  said  this  than  Akka  turned  to  the 
stork  and  asked  if  he  thought  it  advisable  to  take  Thum- 
bietot  along  to  Kullaberg.  "I  mean,  that  we  can  rely  on 
him  as  upon  ourselves,"  said  she.  The  stork  at  once 
insisted  most  enthusiastically  that  Thumbietot  be  per- 
mitted to  come  along.  "Of  course  you  shall  take  Thum- 
bietot along  to  Kullaberg, Mother  Akka,"  said  he.  "It  is 
our  good  fortune  that  we  can  repay  him  for  all  that  he  has 
endured  this  night  for  our  sakes.  And  since  it  still  grieves 
me  to  think  that  I  did  not  conduct  myself  in  a  becoming 
manner  toward  him  the  other  evening,  it  is  I  who  will 
carry  him  on  my  back  —  all  the  way  to  the  meeting  place.' 

There  isn't  much  that  tastes  better  than  praise 
from  those  who  are  wise  and  capable;  and  the  boy  had 
certainly  never  felt  so  happy  as  when  the  wild  goose  and 
the  stork  talked  about  him  in  this  way. 

Thus  the  boy  made  the  trip  to  Kullaberg,  riding  stork- 
back.  Although  he  knew  that  this  was  a  great  honour,  it 
caused  him  much  anxiety,  for  Herr  Ermenrich  was  a  master 


flyer,  and  started  off  at  a  pace  very  different  from  that  of  the 
wild  geese.  While  Akka  flew  her  straight  way  with  even 
wing-strokes,  the  stork  amused  himself  by  performing  a  lot 
of  flying  tricks.  First  he  lay  still  in  an  immeasurable  height, 
and  floated  in  the  air  without  moving  his  wings,  then  he 
flung  himself  downward  with  such  sudden  haste  that  it 
seemed  as  if  he  would  fall  to  the  ground,  helpless  as  a  stone; 
and  then  he  had  heaps  of  fun  flying  all  around  Akka,  in 
great  and  small  circles,  like  a  whirlwind.  The  boy  had 
never  before  been  on  a  ride  of  this  sort;  and  though  he  sat 
there  all  the  while  in  terror,  he  had  to  admit  to  himself  that 
never  before  had  he  known  what  a  good  flight  meant. 

Only  a  single  pause  was  made  during  the  journey,  and 
that  was  at  Vomb  Lake,  where  Akka  joined  her  travelling 
companions  and  called  out  to  them  that  the  gray  rats  had 
been  vanquished.  After  that,  the  travellers  flew  straight 
on  to  Kullaberg. 

There  they  descended  to  the  knoll  reserved  for  the  wild 
geese;  and  as  the  boy  let  his  glance  wander  from  knoll  to 
knoll,  he  noticed  on  one  the  many -pointed  antlers  of  the 
stags;  and  on  another,  the  gray  herons'  neck-crests.  One 
knoll  was  red  with  foxes,  one  was  gray  with  rats;  one  was 
covered  with  black  ravens  who  shrieked  continually;  and 
one  with  larks  who  simply  couldn't  keep  still,  but  kept 
bounding  into  the  air  and  singing  for  very  joy 

As  has  ever  been  the  custom  on  Kullaberg,  it  was  the 
crows  that  began  the  day's  games  and  frolics  with  their  fly- 
ing dance.  They  divided  themselves  into  two  flocks,  that 
flew  toward  each  other,  met,  turned,  and  then  began  all  over 
again.  This  dance  had  many  repetitions,  and  appeared  to 
the  spectators  who  were  not  familiar  with  the  dance  as 
altogether  too  monotonous.  The  crows  were  very  proud 


of  their  dance,  but  all  the  others  were  glad  when  it  was  over. 
It  appeared  to  the  animals  to  be  about  as  gloomy  and  mean- 
ingless as  the  winter  storms'  play  with  the  snowflakes.  It 
depressed  them  to  watch  it,  and  they  waited  eagerly  for 
something  that  should  give  them  a  little  pleasure. 

Nor  did  they  not  have  to  wait  in  vain.  For  as  soon  as 
the  crows  had  finished,  the  hares  came  running.  They 
dashed  forward  in  a  long  row,  with  no  marked  order.  In 
some  of  the  figures  came  one  single  hare;  in  others,  they 
ran  three  and  four  abreast.  All  had  risen  on  two  legs,  and 
were  rushing  forward  with  such  rapidity  that  their  long  ears 
flapped  in  all  directions.  As  they  ran,  they  spun  round, 
made  high  leaps,  and  beat  their  fore-paws  against  their 
hind-paws  so  that  they  rattled.  Some  performed  a 
long  succession  of  somersaults,  others  doubled  themselves 
up  and  rolled  over  like  wheels;  one  stood  on  one  leg  and 
swung  round;  one  walked  on  his  fore-paws.  There  was  no 
regulation  whatever,  yet  there  was  much  that  was  droll  in 
the  hares'  play;  and  the  many  animals  who  looked  on 
began  to  breathe  faster.  Now  it  was  spring;  joy  and  rap- 
ture were  advancing.  Winter  was  over;  summer  was 
coming.  Soon  it  was  only  play  to  live. 

When  the  hares  had  romped  themselves  out,  it  was  the 
great  forest  birds'  turn  to  perform.  Hundreds  of  wood 
grouse  in  shining  dark-brown  array,  and  with  bright  red 
eyebrows,  shot  up  into  a  great  oak  that  stood  in  the  centre 
of  the  playground.  The  one  who  sat  upon  the  topmost 
branch  fluffed  up  his  feathers,  lowered  his  wings,  and  lifted 
his  tail  so  that  the  white  covert-feathers  were  seen.  There- 
upon he  stretched  his  neck  and  sent  forth  a  couple  of  deep 
notes  from  his  thick  throat.  'Tjack,  tjack,  tjack,"  it 
sounded.  More  than  this  he  could  not  utter.  There  were 


only  a  few  gurgles  way  down  in  the  throat.  Then  he 
closed  his  eyes  and  whispered:  "Sis,  sis,  sis.  Hear  how 
pretty!  Sis,  sis,  sis."  At  the  same  time  he  fell  into  such 
an  ecstasy  that  he  no  longer  knew  what  was  going  on 
around  him. 

While  the  first  wood  grouse  was  sissing,  the  three  nearest 
—  under  him  —  began  to  sing;  and  before  they  had  finished 
their  song,  the  ten  who  sat  lower  down,  joined  in;  and  thus 
it  continued  from  branch  to  branch,  until  the  entire  hundred 
grouse  sang  and  gurgled  and  sissed.  They  all  fell  into  the 
same  ecstasy  during  their  song,  and  this  affected  the  other 
animals  like  a  contagious  transport.  Lately  the  blood  had 
flowed  lightly  and  agreeably;  now  it  began  to  grow  heavy 
and  hot.  'Yes,  this  is  surely  spring,"  thought  all  the  ani- 
mal folk.  '  Winter  chill  has  vanished.  The  fires  of  spring 
burn  over  the  earth." 

When  the  black  grouse  saw  that  the  brown  grouse  were 
having  such  success,  they  could  no  longer  keep  quiet.  As 
there  was  no  tree  for  them  to  light  upon,  they  rushed  down 
to  the  playground,  where  the  heather  stood  so  high  that 
only  their  beautifully  turned  tail-feathers  and  their  thick 
bills  were  visible  —  and  they  began  to  sing:  "Orr,  orr,  orr." 

Just  as  the  black  grouse  started  to  compete  with  the 
brown  grouse,  something  unprecedented  happened.  While 
all  the  animals  were  thinking  of  nothing  but  the  grouse- 
game,  a  fox  stole  slowly  over  to  the  wild  geese's  knoll. 
He  glided  very  cautiously,  and  was  far  up  on  the  knoll 
before  any  one  noticed  him.  Suddenly  a  goose  caught  sight 
of  him ;  and  as  she  could  not  believe  that  a  fox  had  sneaked 
in  among  the  geese  for  any  good  purpose,  she  began  to  cry : 
"Have  a  care,  wild  geese!  Have  a  care!"  The  fox  struck 
her  across  the  throat  —  mostly,  perhaps,  because  he  wanted 


to  make  her  keep  quiet  —  but  the  wild  geese  had  already 
heard  the  cry,  so  they  all  rose  into  the  air.  When  they  had 
flown,  the  animals  saw  Smirre  Fox  standing  on  the  wild 
geese's  knoll,  with  a  dead  goose  in  his  mouth. 

But  because  he  had  thus  broken  the  play-day's  peace, 
such  a  punishment  was  meted  out  to  Smirre  Fox,  that  for 
the  rest  of  his  days  he  must  regret  that  he  had  not  been 
able  to  control  his  thirst  for  revenge,  but  had  attempted  to 
approach  Akka  and  her  flock  in  this  manner. 

He  was  immediately  surrounded  by  a  crowd  of  foxes  and 
doomed  in  accordance  with  an  old  custom,  which  demands 
that  whosoever  disturbs  the  peace  on  the  great  play-day 
must  go  into  exile.  Not  a  fox  wished  to  lighten  the  sen- 
tence, since  they  all  knew  that  the  instant  they  attempted 
anything  of  the  sort,  they  would  be  driven  from  the  play- 
ground, and  would  nevermore  be  permitted  to  enter  it. 
Banishment  was  pronounced  upon  Smirre  without  opposi- 
tion. He  was  forbidden  to  remain  in  Skane.  He  was  ban- 
ished from  wife  and  kindred;  from  hunting  grounds,  home, 
resting  places,  and  retreats,  which  he  had  hitherto  owned; 
and  he  must  tempt  fortune  in  foreign  lands.  So  that  all 
foxes  in  Skane  should  know  that  Smirre  was  outlawed  in  the 
district,  the  oldest  of  the  foxes  bit  off  his  right  earlap.  As 
soon  as  this  was  done,  all  the  young  foxes  began  to  yowl 
with  blood-thirst,  throwing  themselves  on  Smirre.  For 
him  there  was  no  way  out  but  to  take  to  his  feet;  and  with 
all  the  young  foxes  in  hot  pursuit,  he  rushed  from  Kullaberg. 

All  this  happened  while  black  grouse  and  brown  grouse 
were  going  on  with  their  games.  But  these  birds  lose  them- 
selves so  completely  in  their  song  that  they  neither  hear 
nor  see.  Nor  had  they  permitted  themselves  to  be  dis- 


The  forest  birds'  contest  was  barely  over,  when  the  stags 
from  Hackeberga  came  forward  to  show  their  wrestling 
game.  There  were  several  pairs  of  stags  who  fought  at  the 
same  time.  They  rushed  at  each  other  with  tremendous 
force,  struck  their  antlers  dashingly  together,  so  that  their 
points  were  entangled,  trying  to  force  each  other  back- 
ward. The  heather-heaths  were  torn  up  beneath  their 
hoofs;  the  breath  came  like  smoke  from  their  nostrils;  out 
of  their  throats  strained  hideous  bellowings,  and  the  froth 
oozed  down  on  their  flanks. 

On  the  knolls  round  about  there  was  breathless  silence 
while  the  skilled  stag-wrestlers  clinched.  In  all  the  ani- 
mals new  emotions  were  awakened.  Each  and  all  felt 
courageous  and  strong;  enlivened  by  returning  powers; 
born  again  with  the  spring;  sprightly,  and  ready  for  all 
kinds  of  adventures.  They  felt  no  enmity  toward  each 
other,  although,  everywhere,  wings  were  lifted,  neck- 
feathers  raised,  and  claws  sharpened.  If  the  stags  from 
Hackeberga  had  continued  another  instant,  a  wild  struggle 
would  have  arisen  on  the  knolls,  for  all  had  been  gripped 
with  a  burning  desire  to  show  that  they,  too,  were  full  of 
life  because  the  winter's  impotence  was  over  and  strength 
surged  through  their  bodies. 

But  the  stags  stopped  wrestling  just  at  the  right  moment, 
and  instantly  a  whisper  went  from  knoll  to  knoll:  'The 
cranes  are  coming!" 

And  then  came  the  gray,  dusk-clad  birds  with  plumes  in 
their  wings,  and  red  feather-ornaments  on  their  necks.  The 
big  birds  with  their  tall  legs,  their  slender  throats,  their 
small  heads,  came  gliding  down  the  knoll  with  an  abandon 
that  was  full  of  mystery.  As  they  glided  forward  they 
swung  round  —  half  flying,  half  dancing.  With  wings 


gracefully  lifted,  they  moved  with  an  inconceivable  rapidity. 
There  was  something  marvellous  and  strange  about  their 
dance.  It  was  as  though  gray  shadows  had  played  a  game 
which  the  eye  could  scarcely  follow.  It  was  as  if  they  had 
learned  it  from  the  mists  that  hover  over  desolate  swamps. 
There  was  witchcraft  in  it.  All  those  who  had  never 
before  been  on  Kullaberg  understood  now  why  the  whole 
meeting  took  its  name  from  the  cranes'  dance.  There  was 
wildness  in  it;  but  yet  the  feeling  which  it  awakened  was  a 
delicious  longing.  No  one  thought  any  more  about  strug- 
gling. Instead,  both  the  winged  and  those  who  had  no 
wings,  all  wanted  to  raise  themselves  eternally,  lift  them- 
selves above  the  clouds,  seek  that  which  was  hidden  beyond 
them,  leave  the  oppressive  body  that  dragged  them  down  to 
earth  and  soar  away  toward  the  infinite. 

Such  longing  after  the  unattainable,  after  the  hidden 
mysteries  back  of  this  life,  the  animals  felt  only  once  a  year; 
and  this  was  on  the  day  when  they  beheld  the  Great  Crane 



Wednesday,  March  thirtieth. 

IT  WAS  the  first  rainy  day  of  the  trip.  So  long  as  the 
wild  geese  had  remained  in  the  vicinity  of  Vomb  Lake 
they  had  had  beautiful  weather;  but  on  the  day  they  set 
out  to  travel  farther  north,  it  began  to  rain,  and  for  several 
hours  the  boy  had  to  sit  on  the  goose-back,  soaking  wet, 
and  shivering  with  the  cold. 

In  the  morning,  when  they  had  started,  it  was  clear  and 
mild.  The  wild  geese  had  flown  high  up  in  the  air,  steadily, 
and  without  haste  —  with  Akka  at  the  head  maintaining 
strict  discipline,  and  the  rest  in  two  oblique  lines  behind  her. 
They  had  not  taken  time  to  shout  any  cutting  remarks  to 
the  animals  on  the  ground;  but,  as  it  was  simply  impossible 
for  them  to  keep  perfectly  silent,  they  sang  out  continually 
in  rhythm  with  the  wing-strokes  their  usual  coaxing  call: 
'Where  are  you?  Here  am  I.  Where  are  you?  Here 
am  I." 

All  took  part  in  this  persistent  calling,  only  stopping, 
now  and  then,  long  enough  to  show  the  goosey-gander  the 
landmarks  they  were  travelling  over. 

It  was  a  monotonous  trip,  and  when  the  rain-clouds  made 
their  appearance  the  boy  thought  it  a  real  diversion.  In 
the  old  days,  when  he  had  seen  rain-clouds  only  from  below, 
he  had  thought  them  gray  and  disagreeable;  but  it  was  a 
very  different  thing  to  be  up  amongst  them.  Now  he  saw 


distinctly  that  the  clouds  were  enormous  carts,  which  drove 
through  the  heavens  with  sky-high  loads.  Some  were  piled 
up  with  huge,  gray  sacks,  some  with  barrels;  others  were  so 
large  that  they  could  hold  a  whole  lake ;  and  a  few  were  filled 
with  big  utensils  and  bottles  which  were  piled  up  to  an 
immense  height.  And  when  so  many  of  them  had  driven 
forward  that  they  filled  the  whole  sky,  it  appeared  as  if 
some  one  had  given  a  signal,  for  all  at  once,  water  began  to 
pour  down  over  the  earth,  from  utensils,  barrels,  bottles, 
and  sacks. 

Just  as  the  first  spring  showers  pattered  against  the  ground 
there  arose  such  shouts  of  joy  from  all  the  small  birds  in 
groves  and  pastures  that  the  whole  air  rang  with  them, 
and  the  boy  leaped  high  where  he  sat.  :'Now  we'll  have 
rain.  Rain  gives  us  spring;  spring  gives  us  flowers  and 
green  leaves;  green  leaves  and  flowers  give  us  worms  and 
insects;  worms  and  insects  give  us  food;  and  plentiful,  and 
good  food  is  the  best  thing  there  is,"  sang  the  birds. 

The  wild  geese,  too,  were  glad  of  the  rain  which  came  to 
awaken  the  growing  things  from  their  long  sleep,  and  to 
drive  holes  in  the  ice-roofs  on  the  lakes.  They  were  not 
able  to  keep  up  that  seriousness  any  longer,  but  began  to 
send  merry  calls  over  the  neighbourhood. 

When  they  flew  over  the  big  potato  patches,  which  are 
so  plentiful  in  the  country  around  Christianstad  and  which 
still  lay  bare  and  black  —  they  screamed:  'Wake  up  and 
be  useful!  Here  comes  something  that  will  awaken  you. 
You  have  idled  long  enough  now." 

When  they  saw  people  running  to  get  out  of  the  rain, 
they  reproved  them  saying:  'What  are  you  in  such  a 
hurry  about?  Can't  you  see  that  it's  raining  rye-loaves  and 


A  big,  thick  mist  was  moving  swiftly  northward  follow- 
ing close  upon  the  geese.  They  seemed  to  think  that  they 
were  dragging  the  mist  along  with  them;  and,  just  now, 
when  they  saw  great  orchards  beneath  them,  they  called 
out  proudly:  "Here  we  come  with  crocuses;  here  we  come 
with  roses;  here  we  come  with  apple  blossoms  and  cherry 
buds;  here  we  come  with  peas  and  beans  and  turnips  and 
cabbages.  He  who  wills  can  take  them.  He  who  wills 
can  take  them." 

Thus  it  had  sounded  while  the  first  showers  fell,  and  when 
all  were  still  glad  of  the  rain.  But  when  the  rain  continued 
to  fall  the  whole  afternoon,  the  wild  geese  grew  impatient, 
and  cried  to  the  thirsty  forests  around  Ivo  Lake:  "Haven't 
you  got  enough  yet?  Haven't  you  got  enough  yet? >: 

The  heavens  were  growing  grayer  and  grayer  and  the  sun 
hid  itself  so  well  that  one  couldn't  imagine  where  it  was. 
The  rain  fell  faster  and  faster,  and  beat  harder  and  harder 
against  the  wings,  as  it  tried  to  find  its  way  between  the  oily 
outside  feathers,  into  their  skins.  The  earth  was  hidden 
by  fogs;  lakes,  mountains,  and  woods  floated  together  in  an 
indistinct  maze,  and  the  landmarks  could  not  be  distin- 
guished. The  flight  became  slower  and  slower;  the  joyful 
cries  were  hushed ;  and  the  boy  felt  the  cold  more  and  more 

But  he  had  kept  up  his  courage  as  long  as  he  had  ridden 
through  the  air.  And  in  the  afternoon,  when  they  had 
alighted  under  a  little  stunted  pine  in  the  middle  of  a  large 
swamp,  where  all  was  wet,  and  all  was  cold;  where  some 
knolls  were  covered  with  snow,  and  others  stood  up  naked 
in  a  puddle  of  half-melted  ice-water,  even  then,  he  had  not 
felt  discouraged,  but  had  run  about  in  fine  spirits,  hunting 
for  cranberries  and  frozen  whortle-berries.  But  then  came 


the  evening,  and  darkness  sank  down  on  them  so  close 
that  not  even  such  eyes  as  the  boy's  could  see  through  it; 
and  all  the  wilderness  became  so  strangely  grim  and  awful. 
The  boy  lay  tucked  in  under  the  goosey-gander's  wing,  but 
could  not  sleep  because  he  was  cold  and  wet.  He  heard 
such  a  lot  of  rustling  and  rattling  and  stealthy  steps  and 
menacing  voices,  that  he  became  terror-stricken  and  didn't 
know  where  he  should  go.  He  must  go  somewhere  where 
there  was  light  and  heat,  if  he  didn't  want  to  die  of  fright. 

"Suppose  I  venture  where  there  are  human  beings,  just 

for  this  one  night "  thought  the  boy,  "only  to  sit  by 

a  fire  for  a  moment,  and  to  get  a  little  food.  I  could  get 
back  to  the  wild  geese  before  sunrise." 

He  crept  from  under  the  wing  and  slid  down  to  the 
ground.  He  didn't  awaken  the  goosey -gander  or  any  of  the 
other  geese,  but  stole  silently  and  unobserved,  through 
the  swamp. 

He  didn't  know  exactly  where  on  earth  he  was:  if  he  was 
in  Skane,  in  Smaland,  or  in  Blekinge.  But  just  before 
reaching  the  swamp  he  had  glimpsed  a  large  village, 
and  thither  he  directed  his  steps.  Nor  was  it  long  before 
he  discovered  a  road.  Soon  he  was  in  the  village  street, 
which  was  long,  and  had  trees  on  both  sides,  and  was 
bordered  with  garden  after  garden. 

The  boy  had  come  to  one  of  the  big  cathedral  towns,  which 
are  so  common  on  the  uplands,  but  which  can  hardly  be 
seen  at  all  down  on  the  plain. 

The  houses  were  of  wood,  and  very  prettily  constructed. 
Most  of  them  had  gables  and  fronts,  edged  with  carved 
mouldings,  and  glass  doors — with  here  and  there  a  coloured 
pane  —  opening  on  verandas.  The  walls  were  painted  in 
light  colours;  the  doors  and  window-frames  shone  in  blues 


and  greens,  and  even  in  reds.  While  the  boy  walked  about 
and  viewed  the  houses,  he  could  hear,  all  the  way  out  to  the 
road,  how  the  people  who  sat  in  the  warm  cottages  chat- 
tered and  laughed.  He  could  not  distinguish  their  words 
but  all  the  same  he  thought  it  was  just  lovely  to  hear  human 
voices.  "I  wonder  what  they  would  say  if  I  knocked  and 
begged  to  be  let  in,"  thought  he. 

This  of  course  had  been  his  intention  all  along,  but  now 
that  he  saw  the  lighted  windows  his  fear  of  the  darkness 
was  gone.  Instead,  he  felt  again  that  sense  of  shyness 
which  always  came  over  him  now  when  he  was  near  human 
beings.  "I'll  try  to  see  a  little  more  of  the  town,"  thought 
he,  "before  I  ask  any  one  to  take  me  in." 

One  house  he  came  to  had  a  balcony.  And  just  as  the 
boy  walked  by,  the  doors  were  thrown  open,  and  a  yellow 
light  streamed  through  the  fine,  sheer  curtains.  Then  a 
pretty  young  lady  came  out  upon  the  balcony  and  leaned 
over  the  railing.  "It's  raining;  now  we  shall  soon  have 
spring,"  said  she.  When  the  boy  saw  her  he  felt  a  strange 
longing.  It  was  as  though  he  wanted  to  weep.  For  the 
first  time  he  was  a  bit  sorry  that  he  had  shut  himself  out 
from  the  human  kind. 

Shortly  after,  he  came  to  a  shop  outside  of  which  stood 
a  red  corn-drill.  He  stopped  and  looked  at  it,  and  finally 
crawled  upto  the  seat,  and  made  believe  he  was  driving.  He 
was  thinking  what  fun  it  would  be  to  drive  such  a  pretty 
machine  over  a  grainfield.  For  the  moment  he  had  forgotten 
what  he  was  like  now;  then  he  remembered,  and  quickly 
jumped  down  from  the  machine.  Then  an  even  greater 
unrest  came  over  him.  After  all  human  beings  were  very 
wonderful  and  clever! 

As  he  walked   by  the  post-office,  he  thought  of   all  the 


newspapers  that  came  every  day  with  news  from  the  four 
corners  of  the  earth.  He  saw  the  apothecary's  shop  and  the 
doctor's  home,  and  marvelled  at  the  power  of  human  beings, 
who  could  battle  against  sickness  and  death.  He  came  to 
the  church.  Then  he  thought  of  how  human  beings  had 
built  it,  that  they  might  hear  about  another  world  than  the 
one  in  which  they  lived;  of  God  and  the  resurrection  and 
eternal  life.  And  the  longer  he  walked  there,  the  better  he 
liked  human  beings. 

It  is  thus  with  children:  they  never  think  any  furthei 
ahead  than  the  length  of  their  tiny  noses.  That  which  lie& 
nearest  them  they  want  promptly,  with  never  a  thought 
as  to  what  it  may  cost  them.  Nils  Holgersson  had  not 
understood  what  he  was  losing  when  he  chose  to  remain  an 
elf;  but  now  he  began  to  be  dreadfully  afraid  that  perhaps 
he  should  never  again  get  back  his  right  form. 

How  in  all  the  world  should  he  go  to  work  in  order 
to  become  human?  This  he  wanted,  oh!  so  much,  to 

He  crawled  upon  a  doorstep,  seated  himself  in  the  pour- 
ing rain,  and  meditated.  He  sat  there  one  whole  hour  — 
two  whole  hours,  and  he  thought  so  hard  that  his  forehead 
lay  in  furrows;  but  he  was  none  the  wiser.  It  seemed  as  if 
the  thoughts  only  rolled  round  and  round  in  his  head.  The 
longer  he  sat  there,  the  more  impossible  it  seemed  to  him 
to  find  any  solution. 

'This  thing  is  certainly  much  too  difficult  for  one  who 
has  learned  so  little  as  I  have,"  he  thought  at  last.  "It  will 
probably  end  in  my  having  to  go  back  among  human  beings 
after  all.  I  must  ask  the  minister  and  the  doctor  and  the 
schoolmaster  and  others  who  are  learned,  and  may  know  of 
a  cure  for  such  things." 


This  he  determined  to  do  at  once,  and  shook  himself 
—  for  he  was  as  wet  as  a  dog  that  has  been  in  a 

Just  then  he  saw  a  big  owl  come  flying!  It  lit  in  one  of 
the  trees  that  bordered  the  village  street.  The  next  in- 
stant a  lady  owl,  who  sat  under  a  cornice  of  the  house, 
began  to  call  out:  "Kivitt,  Kivitt!  Are  you  at  home 
again,  Mr.  Gray  Owl?  What  kind  of  a  time  did  you  have 

"Thank  you,  Lady  Brown  Owl,  I  had  a  delightful  time," 
said  the  gray  owl.  "Has  anything  out  of  the  ordinary 
happened  here  at  home  during  my  absence ?': 

"Not  here  in  Blekinge,  Mr.  Gray  Owl;  but  in  Skane  a 
marvellous  thing  has  happened!     A  boy  has  been  trans- 
formed by  an  elf  into  a  goblin  no  bigger  than  a  squirrel; 
and   since   then  he  has  gone   to  Lapland   with   a   tame 

'That's  a  remarkable  bit  of  news,  a  remarkable  bit  of 
news.  Can  he  never  be  human  again,  Lady  Brown  Owl? 
Can  he  never  be  human  again ?'! 

'That's  a  secret,  Mr.  Gray  Owl;  but  you  shall  hear  it  just 
the  same.  The  elf  has  said  that  if  the  boy  watches  over  the 
goosey -gander,  so  that  he  comes  home  safe  and  sound, 
and " 

"What  more,  Lady  Brown  Owl?  What  more?  What 

"Fly  with  me  up  to  the  church  tower,  Mr.  Gray  Owl,  and 
you  shall  hear  the  whole  story !  I  fear  there  may  be  some 
one  listening  down  here  in  the  street."  With  that,  the 
owls  flew  their  way;  but  the  boy  flung  his  cap  in  the  air, 
and  shouted:  "If  I  only  watch  over  the  goosey-gander, 
so  that  he  gets  back  safe  and  sound,  then  I  shall  become  a 


human  being  again.    Hurrah!  Hurrah!    Then  I  shall  become 
a  human  being  again!" 

He  shouted  "hurrah"  until  it  was  strange  that  they  did 
not  hear  him  in  the  houses  —  but  they  didn't,  and  he  hurried 
back  to  the  wild  geese,  out  in  the  wet  morass,  as  fast  as  his 
legs  could  carry  him. 



Thursday,  March  thirty-first. 

THE  following  day  the  wild  geese  were  to  travel 
northward  through  Allbo  district,  in  Smaland.  They 
sent  Iksi  and  Kaksi  to  spy  out  the  land.  But  when  they 
returned,  they  said  that  all  the  water  was  frozen,  and  all  the 
land  was  snow-covered.  "We  may  as  well  remain  where 
we  are,"  said  the  wild  geese.  "We  cannot  travel  over  a 
country  where  there  is  neither  water  nor  food." 

"If  we  remain  where  we  are,  we  may  have  to  wait  here 
until  the  next  moon,"  said  Akka.  "It  is  better  to  go  east- 
ward, through  Blekinge,  and  see  if  we  can't  get  to  Smaland 
by  way  of  More,  which  is  near  the  coast,  and  has  an  early 

Thus  the  boy  came  to  ride  over  Blekinge  that  day.  Now 
that  it  was  light  again,  he  was  in  a  merry  mood  once  more, 
and  couldn't  imagine  what  had  come  over  him  the  night 
before.  He  certainly  didn't  want  to  give  up  the  journey 
and  the  outdoor  life  now. 

There  was  a  thick  fog  over  Blekinge,  so  the  boy  couldn't 
see  how  it  looked  out  there.  "I  wonder  if  it  is  a  rich  or  a 
poor  land  that  I'm  riding  over,"  thought  he,  and  tried  to 
search  his  memory  for  the  things  he  had  heard  about  the 
country  at  school.  But  at  the  same  time  he  knew  well 
enough  that  this  was  useless,  since  he  had  never  been  in 
the  habit  of  studying  his  lessons. 



Suddenly  the  boy  seemed  to  see  the  school  before  him  — 
the  children  sitting  at  their  little  desks  with  raised  hands; 
the  teacher  on  the  lectern  looking  displeased,  and  he  himself 
before  the  map  to  answer  some  question  about  Blekinge; 
but  he  hadn't  a  word  to  say.  The  schoolmaster's  face  grew 
darker  and  darker  for  every  second  that  passed,  and  the  boy 
thought  the  teacher  was  more  particular  that  they  should 
know  their  geography  than  anything  else.  Now  he  came 
down  from  the  lectern,  took  the  pointer  from  the  boy,  and 
sent  him  back  to  his  seat.  'This  won't  end  well,"  the 
boy  had  thought  then. 

But  the  schoolmaster  had  gone  over  to  a  window,  and 
had  stood  there  a  moment  looking  out,  and  then  he  whistled 
to  himself.  He  went  back  to  the  lectern  saying  that  he 
would  tell  them  something  about  Blekinge.  And  that 
which  he  then  told  was  so  amusing  that  the  boy  had 
listened.  Now  as  he  stopped  to  think  for  a  moment,  he 
remembered  every  word. 

"Sm aland  is  a  tall  house  with  spruce  trees  on  the  roof," 
said  the  teacher,  "and  leading  up  to  it  is  a  broad  stairway 
with  three  big  steps;  this  stairway  is  called  Blekinge.  It  is 
a  stairway  that  is  well  constructed,  and  stretches  forty -two 
miles  along  the  frontage  of  Smaland  house,  and  any  one 
who  wishes  to  go  all  the  way  down  to  the  Baltic  Sea  by 
way  of  the  stairs,  has  twenty-four  miles  to  climb. 

"A  good  long  time  must  have  elapsed  since  the  stairway 
was  built.  Both  days  and  years  have  passed  since  the 
steps  were  hewn  from  gray  stones  and  laid  down  evenly 
and  smoothly,  for  a  convenient  track  between  Smaland  and 
the  Baltic  Sea. 

"Since  the  stairway  is  so  old,  one  can  understand  that  it 
doesn't  look  quite  the  same  now  as  when  it  was  new.  I 


don't  know  how  much  they  troubled  themselves  about  such 
matters  at  that  time;  but  big  as  it  was,  no  broom  could  have 
kept  it  clean.  After  a  couple  of  years,  moss  and  lichen 
began  to  grow  on  it  and  in  the  autumn  dry  leaves  and 
dry  grass  blew  down  over  it;  and  in  the  spring  it  was 
littered  over  with  falling  stones  and  gravel.  And  since 
all  these  things  were  left  there  to  mould,  they  finally 
gathered  so  much  soil  on  the  steps  that  not  only  herbs 
and  grass,  but  even  bushes  and  trees  could  take  root 

"But,  meantime,  a  great  disparity  has  arisen  between  the 
three  steps.  The  topmost  step,  which  lies  nearest  Smaland, 
is  mostly  covered  with  poor  soil  and  small  stones,  and  no 
trees  except  birches  and  bird-cherry  and  spruce  —  which 
can  stand  the  cold  on  the  heights,  and  are  satisfied  with  little 
—  can  thrive  there.  One  understands  best  how  poor  and 
dry  it  is  there,  when  one  sees  how  small  the  field-plots 
are,  and  how  tiny  the  numerous  cabins.  But  on  the  mid- 
dle step  the  soil  is  better  and  does  not  lie  bound  down 
under  such  severe  cold.  This,  one  can  see  at  a  glance, 
since  the  trees  here  are  both  higher  and  of  finer  quality. 
Here  you'll  find  maple  and  oak  and  linden  and  weeping- 
birch  and  hazel  trees  growing,  but  no  cone-trees  to  speak  of. 
And  it  is  still  more  noticeable  because  of  the  amount  of 
cultivated  land  to  be  found  here;  and  also  because  the  people 
have  great  and  beautiful  houses.  On  the  middle  step  there 
are  many  churches,  with  large  towns  around  them;  and 
in  every  way  it  makes  a  better  and  finer  appearance  than  the 
top  step. 

"  But  the  very  lowest  step  is  the  best  of  all.  It  is  covered 
with  good  rich  soil;  and,  where  it  lies  and  bathes  in  the  sea, 
it  hasn't  the  slightest  feeling  of  the  Smaland  chill.  Beeches 


and  chestnut  and  walnut  trees  thrive  down  here;  and  they 
grow  so  big  that  they  tower  above  the  church  roofs.  Here 
lie  also  the  largest  grainfields;  the  people  have  not 
only  timber  and  farming  to  live  by,  but  they  are  also 
occupied  with  fishing  and  trading  and  seafaring.  For  this 
reason  you  will  find  the  most  costly  residences  and  the 
prettiest  churches  here;  and  the  parishes  have  developed 
into  villages  and  cities. 

"But  this  is  not  all  there  is  to  be  said  of  the  three  steps. 
For  one  must  realize  that  when  it  rains  on  the  roof  of  the  big 
Smaland  house,  or  when  the  snow  melts  up  there,  the  water 
has  to  go  somewhere;  and  then,  naturally,  a  lot  of  it  is  spilled 
over  the  big  stairway.  In  the  beginning  it  probably  oozed 
over  the  whole  stairway,  big  as  it  was;  then  cracks  appeared 
in  it,  and,  gradually,  the  water  accustomed  itself  to  flow 
alongside  of  it,  in  well  dug-out  grooves.  And  water  is 
water,  whatever  one  does  with  it.  It  never  has  any  rest. 
In  one  place  it  cuts  and  files  away,  and  in  another  it  adds 
to.  These  grooves  it  has  dug  into  vales,  and  the  walls  of 
the  vales  it  has  decked  with  soil;  and  bushes  and  trees  and 
vines  have  clung  to  them  ever  since  —  so  thick,  and  in  such 
profusion  that  they  almost  hide  the  streams  they  border. 
But  when  the  streams  come  to  the  landings  between  the 
steps,  they  hurl  themselves  headlong  over  them;  this  is  why 
the  water  comes  with  such  a  seething  rush  that  it  gathers 
strength  with  which  to  move  millwheels  and  machinery  — 
these,  too,  have  sprung  up  by  every  waterfall. 

"But  this  is  not  all  there  is  to  tell  of  the  land  with  the 
three  steps.  Once  upon  a  time  up  in  the  big  house  in 
Smaland  there  lived  a  giant,  who  had  grown  very  old.  And 
it  fatigued  him,  in  his  extreme  age,  to  be  forced  to  walk 
down  that  long  stairway  in  order  to  catch  salmon  from  the 


sea.  To  him  it  seemed  much  more  suitable  that  the  salmon 
should  come  up  to  him,  where  he  lived. 

"Therefore,  he  went  up  on  the  roof  of  his  great  house; 
and  there  he  stood  and  threw  stones  down  into  the  Baltic 
Sea.  He  threw  them  with  such  force  that  they  flew  over 
the  whole  of  Blekinge  and  dropped  into  the  sea.  And  when 
the  stones  came  down,  the  salmon  got  so  scared  that  they 
came  up  from  the  Baltic  and  fled  toward  the  Blekinge 
streams;  ran  through  the  rapids;  flung  themselves  with  high 
leaps  over  the  waterfalls,  and  stopped. 

"How  true  this  is,  one  can  see  by  the  many  islands  and 
points  that  lie  along  the  coast  of  Blekinge,  and  which  are 
nothing  in  the  world  but  the  big  stones  that  the  giant  threw. 

"One  can  also  tell  because  the  salmon  always  go  up  in  the 
Blekinge  streams  and  work  their  way  through  rapids  and 
still  water,  all  the  way  to  Smaland. 

"That  giant  is  worthy  of  great  thanks  and  much  honour 
from  the  Blekinge  people;  for  salmon  in  the  streams,  and 
stone-cutting  on  the  islands  —  that  means  work  which  gives 
food  to  many  of  them  even  to  this  day." 



Friday,  April  first. 

NEITHER  the  wild  geese  nor  Smirre  Fox  had  thought 
that  they  should  ever  run  across  each  other  after  leav- 
ing Skane.  But  as  it  turned  out  the  wild  geese  happened 
to  take  the  route  over  Blekinge,  and  thither  Smirre  Fox  had 
also  gone. 

So  far  he  had  kept  himself  in  the  northern  parts  of 
the  province;  and  since  he  had  not  as  yet  seen  any 
manor  parks,  or  hunting  grounds  filled  with  game  and 
dainty  young  deer,  he  was  more  disgruntled  than  he 
could  say. 

One  afternoon,  while  Smirre  tramped  around  in  the 
desolate  forest  district  of  Mellanbygden,  not  far  from 
Ronneby  River,  he  saw  a  flock  of  wild  geese  fly  through 
the  air.  Instantly  he  observed  that  one  of  the  geese 
was  white  and  then  he  knew,  of  course,  with  whom  he  had 
to  deal. 

Smirre  began  immediately  to  hunt  the  geese  —  as  much 
for  the  pleasure  of  getting  a  good  square  meal,  as  for  the 
desire  to  be  avenged  for  all  the  humiliation  they  had  heaped 
upon  him.  He  saw  that  they  flew  eastward  until  they  came 
to  Ronneby  River.  Then  they  changed  their  course,  and 
followed  the  river  toward  the  south.  He  understood  that 
they  intended  to  seek  a  sleeping-place  along  the  river-bank, 
and  he  thought  that  he  should  be  able  to  get  at  a  pair  of 



them  without  much  trouble.  But  when  Smirre  finally  dis- 
covered the  place  where  the  wild  geese  had  taken  refuge,  he 
observed  they  had  chosen  such  a  well-protected  spot  that 
he  couldn't  get  near  to  them. 

Ronneby  River  isn't  any  big  or  important  body  of  water; 
nevertheless,  it  is  just  as  much  talked  of,  because  of  its 
pretty  shores.  At  several  points  it  forces  its  way  forward 
between  steep  mountain  walls  that  stand  straight  out  of 
the  water,  and  are  entirely  overgrown  with  honeysuckle  and 
bird-cherry,  mountain-ash  and  osier;  and  there  isn't  much 
that  can  be  more  delightful  than  to  row  out  on  the  little 
dark  river  on  a  pleasant  summer  day,  and  look  upward  at 
all  the  soft  green  that  fastens  itself  to  the  rugged  mountain* 

But  now,  when  the  wild  geese  and  Smirre  came  to  the 
river,  it  was  cold  and  blustery  spring-winter;  all  the  trees 
were  nude,  and  there  was  probably  no  one  who  thought  the 
least  little  bit  about  the  shore  being  ugly  or  pretty.  The 
wild  geese  thanked  their  good  fortune  that  they  had  found  a 
sandstrip  wide  enough  for  them  to  stand  upon,  on  a  steep 
mountain  wall.  Before  them  rushed  the  river,  which 
is  strong  and  turbulent  in  snow-melting  time ;  behind  them 
they  had  an  impassable  mountain-rock  wall,  and  overhang- 
ing branches  screened  them.  They  couldn't  have  had  it 

The  geese  were  asleep  instantly ;  but  the  boy  couldn't  get 
a  wink  of  sleep.  As  soon  as  the  sun  had  disappeared  he  was 
seized  with  a  fear  of  the  darkness,  and  a  wilderness-terror, 
and  he  began  to  long  for  human  beings.  Where  he  lay  — 
tucked  in  under  the  goose- wing -- he  could  see  nothing, 
and  hear  only  a  little ;  and  he  thought  if  any  harm  were  to 
come  to  the  goosey-gander,  he  couldn't  save  him. 


He  heard  noises  and  rustlings  from  all  directions,  and  he 
grew  so  uneasy  that  he  had  to  creep  from  under  the  wing 
and  seat  himself  on  the  ground,  beside  the  goose. 

Long-sighted  Smirre  stood  on  the  mountain  summit  and 
looked  down  upon  the  wild  geese.  'You  may  as  well  give 
this  pursuit  up  first  as  last,"  he  said  to  himself.  "  You  can't 
climb  such  a  steep  mountain;  you  can't  swim  in  such  a  wild 
torrent;  and  there  isn't  the  tiniest  strip  of  land  below  the 
mountain  which  leads  to  the  sleeping-place.  Those  geese 
are  too  wise  for  you.  Don't  ever  bother  yourself  again  to 
hunt  them!" 

But  Smirre,  like  all  foxes,  found  it  hard  to  give  up  an 
undertaking  already  begun,  and  so  he  laid  down  on  the 
extremest  point  of  the  mountain  edge,  and  never  took  his 
eyes  off  the  wild  geese.  While  he  lay  and  watched  them, 
he  thought  of  all  the  harm  they  had  done  him.  Yes,  it  was 
their  fault  that  he  had  been  driven  from  Skane,  and  had 
been  obliged  to  move  to  poverty-stricken  Blekinge.  He 
worked  himself  up  to  such  a  pitch,  as  he  lay  there,  that  he 
wished  the  wild  geese  were  dead,  even  if  he  himself  should 
not  have  the  satisfaction  of  eating  them. 

When  Smirre's  resentment  had  reached  this  height,  he 
heard  rasping  in  a  large  pine  close  to  him,  and  saw  a  squirrel 
come  down  from  the  tree  hotly  pursued  by  a  marten. 
Neither  of  them  noticed  Smirre;  and  he  sat  quietly  and 
watched  the  chase,  which  went  from  tree  to  tree.  He 
looked  at  the  squirrel,  who  moved  among  the  branches  as 
lightly  as  though  he'd  been  able  to  fly.  He  looked  at  the 
marten,  who  was  not  so  skilled  at  climbing  as  the  squirrel, 
but  who  still  ran  up  and  along  the  branches  just  as  securely 
as  if  they  had  been  even  paths  in  the  forest.  "If  I  could 
only  climb  half  as  well  as  either  of  them,"  thought  the  fox, 


"those  creatures  down  there  wouldn't  sleep  in  peace  very 

As  soon  as  the  squirrel  had  been  captured,  and  the  chase 
was  at  an  end,  Smirre  walked  over  to  the  marten,  but 
stopped  two  steps  away  from  him,  to  signify  that  he  did  not 
wish  to  cheat  him  of  his  prey.  He  greeted  the  marten  in  a 
very  friendly  manner,  and  washed  him  good  luck  with  his 
catch.  Smirre  chose  his  wTords  well  —  as  foxes  always  do. 
The  marten,  on  the  contrary,  who,  with  his  long  and  slender 
body,  his  fine  head,  his  soft  skin,  and  his  light  brown  neck- 
piece, looked  like  a  little  marvel  of  beauty,  but  in  reality  was 
nothing  but  a  crude  forest  dweller  —  hardly  answered  him. 
"It  surprises  me,"  said  Smirre,  "that  such  a  fine  hunter  as 
you  should  be  satisfied  with  chasing  squirrels  when  there  is 
much  better  game  within  reach."  Here  he  paused;  but 
when  the  marten  only  grinned  impudently  at  him,  he  con- 
tinued: "Can  it  be  possible  that  you  haven't  seen  the 
wild  geese  that  stand  under  the  mountain  wall?  or  are  you 
not  a  good  enough  climber  to  get  down  to  them?" 

This  time  he  didn't  have  to  wait  for  an  answer.  The 
marten  rushed  up  to  him  with  back  bent,  and  every  sepa- 
rate hair  on  end.  "Have  you  seen  wild  geese?"  he  hissed. 
"Where  are  they?  Tell  me  instantly,  or  I'll  bite  your  neck 
off!"  "But  you  must  remember  that  I'm  twice  your 
size  —  so  be  a  little  polite.  I  ask  nothing  better  than  to 
show  you  the  wild  geese,"  returned  Smirre. 

The  next  instant  the  marten  was  on  his  way  down  the 
steep ;  and  while  Smirre  sat  and  watched  how  he  swung  his 
snake-like  body  from  branch  to  branch,  he  thought:  "That 
pretty  tree-hunter  has  the  wickedest  heart  in  all  the  forest. 
I  believe  that  the  wild  geese  will  have  me  to  thank  for  a 
bloody  awakening." 


But  just  as  Smirre  was  waiting  to  hear  the  geese's  death- 
rattle,  he  saw  the  marten  tumble  from  branch  to  branch  — 
and  plump  into  the  river  so  the  water  splashed  high.  Soon 
thereafter,  wings  beat  loudly  and  strongly  and  all  the  geese 
went  up  in  a  hasty  flight. 

Smirre  intended  to  hurry  after  the  geese,  but  he  was  so 
curious  to  know  how  they  had  been  saved  that  he  sat  there 
until  the  marten  came  clambering  up.  The  poor  beast  was 
soaked  in  mud,  and  stopped  every  now  and  then  to  rub  his 
head  with  his  fore-paws.  "Now  wasn't  that  just  what  I 
thought  -  -  that  you  were  a  booby,  and  would  go  and 
tumble  into  the  river?"  said  Smirre,  contemptuously. 

'I'm  no  booby.  You  don't  have  to  scold  me,"  said 
the  marten.  *  I  sat  -  -  all  ready  —  on  one  of  the  lowest 
branches  thinking  how  I  should  manage  to  tear  a  whole 
lot  of  geese  to  pieces,  when  a  little  creature,  no  bigger 
than  a  squirrel,  jumped  up  and  threw  a  stone  at  my  head 
with  such  force  that  I  fell  into  the  water;  and  before  I  had 
time  to  pick  myself  up  - 

The  marten  didn't  have  to  say  any  more.  He  had  no 
audience.  Smirre  was  already  a  long  way  off  in  pursuit  of 
the  wild  geese. 

In  the  meantime  Akka  had  flown  southward  in  search  of  a 
new  sleeping-place.  There  was  still  a  little  daylight;  and, 
besides,  the  half  moon  hung  high  in  the  heavens,  so  that 
she  could  see  a  little.  Luckily,  she  was  well  acquainted  in 
these  parts,  because  it  had  happened  more  than  once  that 
she  had  been  wind-driven  to  Blekinge  when  travelling  over 
the  Baltic  in  the  spring. 

She  followed  the  river  as  long  as  she  could  see  it  winding 
through  the  moon-lit  landscape,  like  a  black,  shining  snake. 
In  this  way  she  came  down  to  Djupafors  —  where  the  river 


first  hides  itself  in  an  underground  channel  and  then,  clear 
and  transparent,  as  though  it  were  made  of  glass,  rushes  down 
in  a  narrow  cleft,  and  breaks  into  bits  against  the  bottom 
in  glittering  drops  and  flying  foam.  Below  the  white  falls 
lay  a  few  stones,  between  which  the  water  rushed  away  in  a 
wild  torrent  cataract.  Here  Mother  Akka  alighted.  This 
was  another  good  sleeping-place  —  especially  thus  late  in 
the  evening,  when  no  human  beings  moved  about.  At  sun- 
set the  geese  would  hardly  have  been  able  to  camp  there, 
for  Djupafors  does  not  lie  in  any  wilderness.  On  one  side  of 
the  falls  is  a  paper  factory;  on  the  other,  which  is  steep  and 
tree-grown,  is  Djupadal  Park,  where  people  always  stroll 
about  on  the  steep  and  slippery  paths  to  enjoy  the  wild 
stream's  rushing  movement  down  in  the  ravine. 

It  was  about  the  same  here  as  at  the  former  place;  none 
of  the  travellers  in  the  least  realized  that  they  had  come  to  a 
pretty  and  well-known  place.  They  thought  rather  that  it 
was  ghastly  and  dangerous  to  stand  and  sleep  on  slippery, 
wet  stones,  in  the  middle  of  a  rumbling  waterfall.  But  they 
had  to  be  content,  if  only  they  were  protected  from  car- 
nivorous animals. 

The  geese  fell  asleep  instantly,  while  the  boy  could  find 
no  rest  in  sleep,  but  sat  beside  them  that  he  might  watch 
over  the  goosey-gander. 

After  a  while,  Smirre  came  running  along  the  river-shore. 
He  spied  the  geese  immediately  where  they  stood  out  in  the 
foaming  whirlpools,  and  understood  that  he  couldn't  get 
at  them  here,  either.  Still  he  couldn't  make  up  his  mind 
to  abandon  them,  but  sat  down  on  the  shore  and  looked  at 
them.  He  felt  very  much  humbled,  and  thought  that  his 
entire  reputation  as  a  hunter  was  at  stake. 

All  of  a  sudden,  he  saw  an  otter  come  creeping  up  from 


the  falls  with  a  fish  in  his  mouth.  Smirre  approached  him 
but  stopped  within  two  steps  of  him,  to  show  that  he  didn't 
wish  to  take  his  game  from  him. 

"You're  a  remarkable  one,  who  can  content  yourself  with 
catching  a  fish  while  the  stones  are  covered  with  geese!" 
said  Smirre.  He  was  so  eager,  that  he  hadn't  taken  time 
to  choose  his  words  with  his  usual  care.  The  otter  didn't 
turn  his  head  once  in  the  direction  of  the  river.  He  was  a 
vagabond  —  like  all  otters  —  and  had  fished  many  times 
by  Vomb  Lake,  and  probably  knew  Smirre  Fox.  "I  know 
very  well  how  you  act  when  you  want  to  coax  away  a  salmon 
trout,  Smirre,"  said  he. 

"Oh!  is  it  you,  Gripe?"  said  Smirre,  and  was  delighted; 
for  he  knew  that  this  particular  otter  was  a  quick  and  ac- 
complished swimmer.  "I  don't  wonder  that  you  do  not 
care  to  look  at  the  wild  geese,  since  you  can't  manage  to 
get  out  to  them."  But  the  otter,  who  had  swimming- webs 
between  his  toes,  and  a  stiff  tail,  which  was  as  good  as  an 
oar,  and  a  skin  that  was  waterproof,  didn't  wish  to  have  it 
said  of  him  that  there  was  a  waterfall  that  he  wasn't  able 
to  manage.  He  turned  toward  the  stream;  as  soon  as  he 
caught  sight  of  the  wild  geese,  he  threw  the  fish  away, 
rushed  down  the  steep  shore  and  into  the  river. 

If  it  had  been  a  little  later  in  the  spring,  so  that  the  night- 
ingales in  Djupafors  had  been  at  home,  they  would  have 
sung  for  many  a  day  of  Gripe's  struggle  with  the  rapid. 
For  the  otter  was  thrust  back  by  the  waves  many  times, 
and  carried  down  river;  but  he  fought  his  way  steadily  up 
again.  He  swam  forward  in  still  water;  he  crawled  over 
stones,  and  gradually  came  nearer  the  wild  geese.  It  was 
a  perilous  trip,  which  might  well  have  earned  the  right  to  be 
sung  by  the  nightingales. 


Smirre  followed  the  otter's  course  with  his  eyes  as  well 
as  he  could.  Presently  he  saw  that  the  otter  was  in  the  act 
of  climbing  up  to  the  wild  geese.  But  just  then  it  shrieked 
shrill  and  wild.  The  otter  tumbled  backward  into  the 
water,  and  was  carried  away  as  if  he  had  been  a  blind  kitten. 
An  instant  later,  there  was  a  great  crackling  of  geese's 
wings.  They  rose  and  flew  away  to  find  another  sleeping- 

The  otter  soon  came  ashore.  He  said  nothing,  but  com- 
menced to  lick  one  of  his  fore-paws.  When  Smirre  sneered 
at  him  because  he  hadn't  succeeded,  he  burst  out:  'It  was 
not  the  fault  of  my  swimming-art,  Smirre.  I  had  raced  all 
the  way  over  to  the  geese  and  was  about  to  climb  up  to 
them  when  a  tiny  creature  came  running,  and  jabbed  me 
in  the  foot  with  something  sharp.  It  hurt  so,  I  lost  my 
footing,  and  then  the  current  took  me." 

He  didn't  have  to  say  any  more.  Smirre  was  already 
far  off,  on  his  way  to  the  wild  geese. 

Once  again  Akka  and  her  flock  had  to  take  a  night  fly. 
Fortunately,  the  moon  had  not  gone  down;  and  with  the  aid 
of  its  light,  she  succeeded  in  finding  another  of  those  sleeping- 
places  which  she  knew  of  in  that  neighbourhood.  Again 
she  followed  the  shining  river  toward  the  south.  Over 
Djapadal's  manor,  and  over  Ronneby's  dark  roofs  and  white 
waterfalls  she  flew  forward  without  alighting.  But  a  little 
south  of  the  city  and  not  far  from  the  sea,  lies  Ronneby 
health-spring,  with  its  bath  house  and  spring  house;  with 
its  big  hotel  and  summer  cottages  for  the  spring's  guests. 
All  these  stand  empty  and  desolate  in  winter  —  which  the 
birds  know  perfectly  well;  and  many  are  the  bird-companies 
that  seek  shelter  on  the  deserted  buildings'  balustrades  and 
balconies  during  hard  storm-times. 


Here  the  wild  geese  lit  on  a  balcony,  and,  as  usual,  they 
fell  asleep  at  once.  The  boy,  on  the  contrary,  could  not 
sleep  because  he  hadn't  cared  to  creep  in  under  the  goosey- 
gander's  wing. 

The  balcony  faced  south,  so  the  boy  had  an  outlook  over 
the  sea.  And  since  he  could  not  sleep,  he  sat  there  and  saw 
how  pretty  it  looked  when  sea  and  land  meet,  here  in 

It  so  happens  that  sea  and  land  can  meet  in  many  different 
ways.  In  some  places  the  land  comes  down  toward  the  sea 
with  flat,  tufted  meadows,  and  the  sea  meets  the  land  with 
flying  sand,  which  it  piles  up  into  mounds  and  drifts.  It 
appears  as  if  both  disliked  each  other  so  much  that  they 
only  wished  to  show  the  poorest  they  possess.  But  it 
can  also  happen  that  when  the  land  comes  toward  the  sea 
it  raises  a  wall  of  hills  in  front  of  it  —  as  though  the  sea  were 
something  dangerous.  When  the  land  acts  like  that,  the 
sea  conies  up  to  it  with  fiery  wrath,  and  beats  and  roars 
and  lashes  against  the  rocks,  and  looks  as  if  it  would  tear 
the  land-hill  to  pieces. 

But  in  Blekinge  it  is  altogether  different  when  sea  and 
land  meet.  There  the  land  breaks  itself  up  into  points  and 
islands  and  islets;  and  the  sea  divides  itself  into  fiords  and 
bays  and  sounds;  and  it  is  perhaps  this  which  makes  it 
appear  as  if  they  must  meet  in  happiness  and  harmony. 

Think  now  first  and  foremost  of  the  sea!  Far  out  it 
lies  desolate  and  empty  and  big,  and  has  nothing  to  do  but 
to  roll  its  gray  billows.  When  it  comes  toward  the  land,  it 
happens  across  the  first  islet.  This  it  immediately  over- 
powers; tears  away  everything  green,  and  makes  it  as  gray 
as  itself.  Then  it  meets  still  another  islet;  this  it  treats  in 
the  same  way.  And  still  another  —  yes,  the  same  thing. 


happens  to  this  also.  It  is  stripped  and  plundered,  as  if  it 
had  fallen  into  robbers'  hands.  Then  the  islets  come  nearer 
and  nearer  together,  and  now  the  sea  must  understand  that 
the  land  sends  toward  it  her  littlest  children,  in  order  to 
move  it  to  pity.  It  also  grows  more  friendly  the  farther  in 
it  comes;  rolls  its  waves  less  high;  moderates  its  storms; lets 
the  green  things  stay  in  cracks  and  crevices;  separates  itself 
into  small  sounds  and  inlets,  and  becomes  at  last  so  harmless 
in  the  land  that  little  boats  dare  venture  out  on  it.  It 
hardly  knows  itself  —  so  mild  and  friendly  has  it  become. 

And  then  think  of  the  hillside !  It  lies  uniform,  and  looks 
the  same  almost  everywhere.  It  consists  of  flat  grain- 
fields,  with  one  and  another  birch-grove  between,  or  of  long 
stretches  of  forest  ranges.  It  appears  as  if  it  had  thought 
of  nothing  but  grain  and  turnips  and  potatoes  and  spruce 
and  pine.  Then  along  comes  a  fiord  that  cuts  far  into  it. 
It  doesn't  mind  that,  but  borders  it  with  birch  and  alder, 
just  as  if  it  were  an  ordinary  fresh-water  lake.  Then  still 
another  wave  comes  driving  in.  Nor  does  the  hillside 
bother  to  cringe  to  this,  but  it  also  gets  the  same  dousing 
as  the  first  one.  Then  the  fiords  begin  to  broaden  and 
separate;  they  break  up  fields  and  woods  and  then  the  hill- 
side cannot  help  but  notice  them.  "I  believe  it  is  the  sea 
itself  that  is  coming,"  says  the  Hillside,  and  then  it  begins  to 
adorn  itself.  It  wreathes  itself  with  blossoms,  travels  up 
and  down  in  hills,  and  throws  islands  into  the  sea.  It  no 
longer  cares  about  pines  and  spruces,  but  casts  them  off  like 
old  everyday  clothes,  parading  later  with  big  oaks  and 
lindens  and  chestnuts,  and  with  blossoming  leafy  bowers, 
and  it  becomes  as  gorgeous  as  a  manor-park.  And  when  it 
meets  the  sea,  it  is  so  changed  that  it  doesn't  know  itself. 
All  this  cannot  be  seen  very  well  until  summertime;  but, 


at  any  rate,  the  boy  observed  how  mild  and  friendly  nature 
was;  and  he  began  to  feel  calmer  than  he  had  felt  before 
that  night.  Then,  suddenly,  he  heard  a  sharp  and  ugly 
yowl  from  the  bath-house  park;  and  when  he  stood  up  he 
saw,  in  the  pale  moonlight,  a  fox  standing  on  the  pavement 
under  the  balcony.  For  Smirre  had  followed  the  wild  geese 
once  more.  But  on  finding  the  place  where  they  were 
quartered,  he  understood  that  it  was  impossible  to  get  at 
them  in  any  way;  therefore  he  had  not  been  able  to  keep 
from  yowling  with  chagrin. 

When  the  fox  yowled  like  that,  old  Akka,  the  leader-goose, 
was  awakened.  Although  she  could  see  nothing,  she  thought 
she  recognized  the  voice.  "Is  it  you  who  are  out  to-night, 
Smirre?"  said  she.  'Yes,"  said  Smirre,  "it  is  I;  and  I  want 
to  ask  what  you  geese  think  of  the  night  I  have  brought 

:'Do  you  mean  to  say  that  it  is  you  who  have  sent  the 
marten  and  otter  against  us?"  asked  Akka.  "A  good  turn 
shouldn't  be  denied,"  retorted  Smirre.  'You  once  played 
the  goose-game  with  me,  now  I  have  begun  to  play  the  fox- 
game  with  you;  and  I'm  not  inclined  to  let  up  on  it  so  long 
as  a  single  one  of  you  still  lives,  even  if  I  have  to  follow  you 
the  world  over!" 

'You,  Smirre,  ought  at  least  to  think  whether  it  is  right 
for  you,  who  are  weaponed  with  both  teeth  and  claws,  to 
hound  us  in  this  way;  we,  who  are  defenceless,"  said  Akka. 

Smirre  thought  that  Akka  sounded  scared,  and  he 
promptly  said:  "If  you,  Akka,  will  take  that  Thumbietot, 
who  has  so  often  opposed  me,  and  throw  him  down  to  me, 
I'll  promise  to  make  my  peace  with  you.  Then  I'll  never 
more  pursue  you  or  any  of  yours."  "I'm  not  going  to  give 
you  Thumbietot,"  said  Akka.  "From  the  youngest  of  us 


to  the  oldest,  we  would  willingly  give  our  lives  for  his  sake!" 
"Since  you're  so  fond  of  him,"  said  Smirre,  "I  promise 
you  that  he  shall  be  the  first  among  you  that  I  will  wreak 
vengeance  upon." 

Akka  said  no  more,  and  after  Smirre  had  sent  up  a  few 
more  yowls,  all  was  still.  The  boy  lay  all  the  while  awake. 
Now  it  was  Akka's  words  to  the  fox  that  prevented  his 
sleeping.  Never  had  he  dreamed  that  he  should  hear  any- 
thing so  great  as  that  some  one  was  willing  to  risk  life  for 
his  sake.  From  that  moment,  it  could  no  longer  be  said  of 
Nils  Holgersson  that  he  cared  for  no  one. 



Saturday,  April  third. 

IT  WAS  a  moonlight  evening  in  Karlskrona  —  calm  and 
beautiful.  But  earlier  in  the  day  there  had  been  rain 
and  wind;  and  the  people  must  have  thought  that  the  bad 
weather  still  continued,  for  hardly  a  soul  had  ventured  out 
into  the  streets. 

While  the  city  lay  there  so  desolate,  Akka,  the  wild  goose, 
and  her  flock,  came  flying  toward  it  overVemmon  and  Pantar- 
holmen.  They  were  out  in  the  late  evening  to  seek  a  sleeping- 
place  on  the  islands.  They  couldn't  remain  inland  because 
they  were  disturbed  by  Smirre  Fox  wherever  they  lighted. 

As  the  boy  rode  along,  high  up  in  the  air,  and  looked 
,at  the  sea  and  the  islands  which  spread  before  him,  he 
thought  that  everything  appeared  so  strange  and  spooky. 
The  heavens  were  no  longer  blue,  but  encased  him  like  a 
globe  of  green  glass.  The  sea  was  milk-white,  and  as  far 
as  he  could  see  rolled  small  white  waves  tipped  with  silver 
ripples.  In  among  all  this  white  lay  numerous  little  islets, 
coal  black.  Whether  they  were  big  or  little,  whether  they 
were  even  as  meadows,  or  full  of  cliffs,  they  looked  just  as 
black.  Even  dwelling-houses  and  churches  and  windmills, 
which  at  other  times  are  white  or  red,  were  now  outlined  in 
black  against  the  green  sky.  The  boy  thought  it  was  as 
if  the  earth  had  been  transformed,  and  he  was  come  to 
another  world. 



He  felt  that  just  for  this  one  night  he  wanted  to  be 
brave,  and  not  afraid  —  when  he  saw  something  that  really 
frightened  him.  It  was  a  high  cliff  island,  covered  with 
big,  angular  blocks;  and  between  the  dark  blocks  glittered 
specks  of  bright,  shining  gold.  He  couldn't  keep  from 
thinking  of  Maglestone,  by  Trolle-Ljungby,  which  the 
trolls  sometimes  raised  upon  high  golden  pillars;  and  he 
wondered  if  this  wasn't  something  of  the  same  sort. 

It  would  have  been  well  enough  with  the  stones  and  the 
gold  if  there  hadn't  been  so  many  fiendish  things  all  around 
the  island.  They  looked  like  whales  and  sharks  and  other 
big  sea-monsters.  But  the  boy  understood  that  these  were 
sea-trolls,  who  had  gathered  around  the  island  and  intended 
to  crawl  up  on  it,  to  fight  with  the  land-trolls  who  lived 
there.  And  those  on  the  land  were  probably  afraid,  for  he 
saw  how  a  big  giant  stood  on  the  highest  point  of  the  island 
and  raised  his  arms,  as  if  in  despair  over  all  the  misfortune 
that  was  to  come  to  him  and  to  his  island. 

The  boy  was  not  a  little  terrified  when  he  noticed  that 
Akka  began  to  descend  right  over  that  particular  island! 
"  No,  for  pity's  sake !  We  must  not  light  there,"  gasped  he. 

But  the  geese  continued  the  descent  and  soon  the  boy 
was  astonished  that  he  could  have  seen  things  so  awry.  In 
the  first  place,  the  big  stone  blocks  were  nothing  but  houses. 
The  whole  island  was  a  city;  and  the  shining  gold  specks 
were  street  lamps  and  lighted  window-panes.  The  giant 
standing  on  the  topmost  point  of  the  island  with  his  arms 
raised  was  a  church  with  two  cross-towers ;  all  the  sea-trolls 
and  monsters,  which  he  thought  he  had  seen,  were  boats 
and  ships  of  every  description,  lying  at  anchor  all  around 
the  island.  On  the  land  side  they  were  mostly  row-boats 
and  sail-boats  and  small  coast  steamers;  but  on  the  side 


that  faced  the  sea  lay  armour-clad  battleships;  some  were 
broad,  with  thick,  slanting  smoke-stacks;  others  were  long 
and  narrow  and  so  constructed  that  they  could  glide 
through  the  water  like  fishes. 

Now  what  city  might  this  be?  That,  the  boy  could  guess 
because  he  saw  all  the  battleships.  All  his  life  he  had  loved 
ships,  although  he  had  had  nothing  to  do  with  any,  except 
the  galleys  which  he  had  sailed  in  the  road  ditches.  He 
knew  well  that  this  city,  where  so  many  battleships  lay, 
could  only  be  Karlskrona. 

The  boy's  grandfather  had  been  an  old  marine;  and  all 
his  life,  he  had  talked  of  Karlskrona  —  of  the  great  warship 
dock,  and  of  all  the  other  things  to  be  seen  in  that  city. 
The  boy  felt  perfectly  at  home,  and  was  glad  that  he  was 
going  to  see  all  of  which  he  had  heard  so  much. 

But  he  had  only  had  a  glimpse  of  the  towers  and  forti- 
fications which  barred  the  entrance  to  the  harbour,  and  the 
many  buildings,  and  the  shipyard,  when  Akka  sank  down  to 
one  of  the  flat  church-towers. 

This  was  a  pretty  safe  place  for  those  who  wanted  to  get 
away  from  a  fox,  and  the  boy  began  to  wonder  if  he  couldn't 
venture  to  crawl  in  under  the  goosey-gander's  wing  for  this 
one  night.  Yes,  that  he  might  safely  do.  It  would  do 
him  good  to  get  a  little  sleep.  He  would  try  to  see  more  of 
the  dock  and  the  ships  at  daybreak. 

It  seemed  strange  to  the  boy  that  he  could  keep  still  and 
wait  until  morning  to  see  the  ships.  He  certainly  had  not 
slept  five  minutes  before  he  slipped  out  from  under  the 
wing  and  slid  down  the  lightning-rod  and  the  water-spout 
all  the  way  to  the  ground. 

Presently  he  stood  on  a  big  square  in  front  of  the  church. 
It  was  paved  with  round  stones,  and  for  him  it  was  just  as 


hard  to  walk  there  as  it  is  for  big  people  to  walk  on  a  tufted 
meadow.  Those  who  are  accustomed  to  live  in  the  open, 
or  far  out  in  the  country,  always  feel  uneasy  when  they  come 
into  a  city,  where  the  houses  stand  straight  and  forbidding, 
and  the  streets  are  open,  so  that  every  one  can  see  who  goes 
there.  And  it  happened  in  the  same  way  with  the  boy. 
When  he  stood  on  the  big  Karlskrona  square,  and  looked 
at  the  German  church,  the  town  hall,  and  the  cathedral 
from  which  he  had  just  descended,  he  wished  himself  back 
on  the  tower  with  the  geese. 

It  was  a  lucky  thing  that  the  square  was  entirely  deserted. 
There  wasn't  a  human  being  about  —  unless  a  statue 
on  its  high  pedestal  could  be  counted  in.  The  boy  stared 
long  at  the  statue,  which  represented  a  big,  brawny  man  in 
a  three-cornered  hat,  long  waistcoat,  knee-breeches,  and 
coarse  shoes  —  and  wondered  who  he  was.  The  man  held 
a  long  stick  in  his  hand,  and  he  looked  as  if  he  would  know 
how  to  make  use  of  it,  too  —  for  he  had  an  awfully  severe 
countenance,  with  a  big,  hooked  nose  and  an  ugly  mouth. 

"What  is  that  long-lipped  thing  doing  here?"  the  boy 
cried  at  last.  Never  had  he  felt  so  small  and  insignificant 
as  he  did  that  night.  He  tried  to  jolly  himself  up  a  bit  by 
saying  something  audacious.  Then  he  thought  no  more 
about  the  statue,  but  betook  himself  to  a  wide  street  which 
led  down  to  the  sea. 

The  boy  hadn't  gone  far  when  he  heard  some  one  follow- 
ing him.  Somebody  was  walking  behind  him,  who  stamped 
on  the  stone  pavement  with  heavy  footsteps  and  pounded  on 
the  ground  with  a  hard  stick.  It  sounded  as  if  the  big 
bronze  man  up  in  the  square  had  started  on  a  tramp. 

The  boy  listened  for  the  steps  as  he  ran  down  the  street, 
and  he  became  more  and  more  convinced  that  it  was  the 


bronze  man.  The  ground  trembled,  and  the  houses  shook. 
It  couldn't  be  any  one  but  he  who  walked  so  heavily.  The 
boy  became  panic-stricken  as  he  thought  of  what  he  had 
just  said  to  him.  He  did  not  dare  turn  his  head  to  find  out 
if  it  really  was  he. 

''Perhaps  he  is  only  out  for  a  walk,"  thought  the  boy. 
''Surely  he  can't  be  angry  at  me  for  the  words  I  spoke. 
They  were  not  at  all  badly  meant." 

Instead  of  going  straight  on,  and  trying  to  get  down  to  the 
dock,  the  boy  turned  into  a  side  street  leading  east.  First 
and  last  he  wanted  to  get  away  from  the  one  who  tramped 
after  him. 

But  the  next  instant  the  bronze  man  turned  down  the 
same  street;  and  then  the  boy  was  so  scared  that  he  didn't 
know  what  to  do  with  himself.  And  how  hard  it  was  to 
find  any  hiding-places  in  a  city  where  all  the  gates  were 
closed !  Then  to  the  right,  a  short  distance  from  the  street, 
he  saw  an  old  frame  church,  in  the  centre  of  a  large  grove. 
Not  an  instant  did  he  pause  to  consider,  but  hurried  on 
toward  the  church.  "If  I  can  only  get  there,  then  I'll 
surely  be  shielded  from  all  harm,"  thought  he. 

As  he  ran  on  he  suddenly  caught  sight  of  a  man  standing 
on  a  gravel  path  beckoning  to  him.  '  There  is  certainly 
some  one  who  will  help  me!"  thought  the  boy.  Oh,  how 
relieved  he  felt !  And  he  hurried  off  in  the  man's  direction. 
He  was  actually  so  frightened  that  the  heart  of  him  fairly 
thumped  in  his  breast. 

But  when  he  got  up  to  the  man,  who  stood  at  the  edge  of 
the  gravel  path,  upon  a  low  pedestal,  he  was  absolutely 
thunderstruck.  "Surely,  it  can't  be  that  one  who  beckoned 
to  me!"  he  thought;  for  he  saw  that  the  entire  man  was 
made  of  wood 


The  boy  stood  there  and  stared  at  him.  He  was  a  thick- 
set man  on  short  legs,  with  a  broad,  ruddy  countenance, 
shiny,  black  hair  and  full  black  beard.  On  his  head  he 
wore  a  wooden  hat;  on  his  body,  a  brown  wooden  coat; 
around  his  waist,  a  black  wooden  belt;  on  his  legs  he  had 
wide  wooden  knee-breeches  and  wooden  stockings;  and  on 
his  feet  black  wooden  shoes.  He  was  newly  painted  and 
newly  varnished,  so  that  he  glistened  and  shone  in  the  moon- 
light. He  looked  so  good-natured  that  the  boy  at  once 
placed  confidence  in  him. 

In  his  left  hand  he  held  a  wooden  slate,  and  there  the 

boy  read: 

Most  humbly  I  beg  you, 

Though  voice  I  may  lack: 
Come  drop  a  penny,  do; 
But  lift  my  hat! 

Oho !  so  the  man  was  only  a  poor-box.  The  boy  felt  that 
he  had  been  fooled.  He  had  expected  this  to  be  something 
really  remarkable.  And  now  he  remembered  that  grandpa 
had  also  spoken  of  the  wooden  man,  and  had  said  that  all  the 
children  in  Karlskrona  were  very  fond  of  him.  And  that 
must  have  been  true,  for  he,  too,  found  it  hard  to  part  with 
the  wooden  man.  He  had  something  so  old-timey  about 
him,  that  one  could  well  take  him  to  be  many  hundred  years 
old;  and  at  the  same  time,  he  looked  so  strong  and  bold, 
and  spirited  —  just  as  one  might  imagine  that  folks  looked 
in  olden  times. 

The  boy  had  so  much  fun  gazing  at  the  wooden  man, 
that  he  entirely  forgot  the  one  from  whom  he  was  fleeing. 
But  now  he  heard  him  turning  from  the  street  into  the 
churchyard.  So  he  had  followed  him  here,  too!  Where 
could  the  boy  go? 


Just  then  he  saw  the  wooden  man  bend  down  to  him  and 
stretch  forth  his  big,  brown  hand.  It  was  impossible  to 
think  anything  but  good  of  him;  and  with  one  jump,  the 
boy  stood  in  his  hand.  The  wooden  man  lifted  him  to  his 
hat  —  and  stuck  him  under  it. 

The  boy  was  just  hidden,  and  the  wooden  man  had  just 
got  his  arm  back  to  its  right  place  again,  when  the  bronze 
man  stopped  in  front  of  him  and  banged  the  stick  on  the 
ground  so  that  the  wooden  man  shook  on  his  pedestal. 
Thereupon  the  bronze  man  said  in  a  strong  and  resonant 
voice:  "Who  might  you  be?" 

The  wooden  man's  arm  went  up,  so  that  it  creaked  in  the 
old  woodwork,  and  he  touched  his  hat-brim  as  he  replied: 
"Rosenbom,  by  Your  Majesty's  leave.  Once  upon  a  time 
boatswain  on  the  man-of-war,  Audacity;  after  completed 
service,  sexton  at  the  Admiral's  Church  —  and,  lately, 
carved  in  wood  and  exhibited  in  the  churchyard  as  a  poor- 

The  boy  gave  a  start  when  he  heard  the  wooden  man 
say  "Your  Majesty."  For  now,  as  he  thought  about  it, 
he  knew  that  the  statue  on  the  square  represented  the  one 
who  founded  the  city.  It  was  probably  no  one  less  than 
Charles  the  Eleventh  himself  that  he  had  encountered. 

"You  give  a  good  account  of  yourself,"  said  the  bronze 
man.  "Can  you  also  tell  me  if  you  have  seen  a  little  brat 
who  runs  around  in  the  city  to-night?  He's  an  impudent 
rascal,  and  if  I  get  hold  of  him,  I'll  teach  him  manners!" 
With  that,  he  again  pounded  on  the  ground  with  his  stick, 
and  looked  fearfully  angry. 

'By  Your  Majesty's  leave,  I  have  seen  him,"  said  the 
wooden  man;  and  the  boy  was  so  scared  that  he  commenced 
to  shake  where  he  sat  under  the  hat  and  looked  at  the  bronze 


man  through  a  crack  in  the  wood.  But  he  calmed  down 
when  the  wooden  man  continued:  'Your  Majesty  is  on 
the  wrong  track.  That  youngster  certainly  intended  to  run 
into  the  shipyard,  to  hide  there." 

'You  don't  tell  me,  Rosenbom?  Well  then,  don't 
stand  on  the  pedestal  any  longer  but  come  with  me 
and  help  me  find  him.  Four  eyes  are  better  than  two, 

But  the  wooden  man  answered  in  a  doleful  voice:  "I 
would  most  humbly  beg  to  be  permitted  to  stay  where  I  am. 
I  look  well  and  sleek  because  of  the  paint,  but  I'm  old  and 
mouldy,  and  cannot  stand  moving  about." 

The  bronze  man  was  not  one  who  liked  to  be  contradicted. 
'What  sort  of  notions  are  these?     Come  along,  Rosen- 
bom!"     Then  he  raised  his  stick  and  gave  him  a  resound- 
ing whack  on  his  wooden  shoulder.     "Does  Rosenbom  not 
see  that  he  holds  together ?': 

With  that  the  two  set  out  together  —  big  and  mighty  — 
on  the  streets  of  Karlskrona  —  till  they  came  to  a  high 
gate,  which  led  to  the  shipyard.  Just  outside  and  on  guard 
walked  one  of  the  navy's  jacktars,  but  the  bronze  man 
strutted  past  him  and  kicked  the  gate  open  without  the 
jacktar's  pretending  to  notice  it. 

As  soon  as  they  got  into  the  shipyard,  they  saw  before 
them  a  wide,  expansive  harbour  separated  by  pile-bridges. 
In  the  different  harbour  basins  lay  the  warships,  which 
looked  bigger,  and  more  awe-inspiring  than  when  the  boy 
had  seen  them  from  above.  'Then  it  wasn't  so  crazy 
after  all  to  imagine  that  they  were  sea-trolls,"  thought 

'  Where  does  Rosenbom  think  it  most  advisable  for  us  to 
begin  the  search?"  said  the  bronze  man. 


"  One  like  him  could  very  easily  conceal  himself  in  the 
hall  of  models,"  replied  the  wooden  man. 

Ancient  structures  lay  all  along  the  harbour  on  a  narrow 
strip  of  land  which  stretched  to  the  right  from  the  gate. 

The  bronze  man  walked  over  to  a  building  with  low  walls, 
small  windows,  and  a  conspicuous  roof.  He  pounded  on 
the  door  with  his  stick  until  it  burst  open ;  then  tramped  up  a 
pair  of  worn-out  steps.  Soon  they  came  into  a  large  hall 
which  was  filled  with  tackled  and  full-rigged  little  ships. 
The  boy  understood  without  being  told  that  they  were 
models  for  the  ships  which  had  been  built  for  the  Swedish 
navy.  There  were  many  different  varieties.  Some  were 
old  men-of-war,  whose  sides  bristled  with  cannon,  and  had 
high  structures  fore  and  aft  —  their  masts  weighed  down 
with  a  network  of  sails  and  ropes.  There  were  small 
island-boats  with  rowing-benches  along  the  sides ;  there  were 
undecked  cannon  sloops  and  richly  gilded  frigates,  which 
were  models  of  the  ones  the  kings  had  used  on  their  travels. 
Finally,  there  were  also  the  heavy,  broad  armour-plated 
ships  with  towers  and  cannon  on  deck  —  such  as  are  in  use 
nowadays;  and  narrow,  shining  torpedo  boats  which 
resembled  long,  slender  fishes. 

While  the  boy  was  being  carried  around  among  all  this, 
he  was  awed.  "Fancy  that  such  big,  splendid  ships  have 
been  built  here  in  Sweden!"  he  thought  to  himself. 

He  had  plenty  of  time  to  see  all  that  was  to  be  seen.  For 
when  the  bronze  man  saw  the  models,  he  forgot  everything 
else,  and  examined  them  from  the  first  to  the  last,  and  asked 
about  them.  Rosenbom,  the  boatswain  on  the  Audacity, 
told  as  much  as  he  knew  of  the  ships'  builders,  and  of  those 
who  had  manned  them;  and  of  the  fates  they  had  met. 
He  told  of  Chapman  and  Puke  and  Trolle;  of  Hoagland 


and  Svensksund  —  all  the  way  along  until  1809  —  after 
that  he  had  not  been  there. 

Both  he  and  the  bronze  man  had  the  most  to  say  about 
the  fine  old  wooden  ships.  The  new  battleships  they 
didn't  exactly  appear  to  understand. 

"I  can  see  that  Rosenbom  doesn't  know  anything  about 
these  new-fangled  things,"  said  the  bronze  man.  "There- 
fore, let  us  go  and  look  at  something  else;  for  this  amuses  me, 

By  this  time  he  had  entirely  given  up  his  search  for  the 
boy,  who  felt  calm  and  secure  where  he  sat  in  the  wooden 

Thereupon  both  men  wandered  through  the  big  estab- 
lishment: sail-making  shops,  anchor  smithy,  machine  and 
carpenter  shops.  They  saw  the  mast  sheers  and  the  docks; 
the  large  magazines,  the  arsenal,  the  rope-bridge  and  the  big 
discarded  dock,  which  had  been  blasted  in  the  bed-rock. 
They  went  out  upon  the  pile-bridges,  where  the  naval 
vessels  lay  moored,  stepped  on  board  and  examined  them 
like  two  old  sea-dogs;  wondered;  disapproved;  approved; 
and  became  indignant. 

The  boy  sat  in  safety  under  the  wooden  hat,  and  heard  all 
about  how  they  had  laboured  and  struggled  in  this  place  to 
equip  the  navies  which  had  gone  out  from  here.  He  heard 
how  life  and  blood  had  been  risked ;  how  the  last  penny  had 
been  sacrificed  to  build  the  warships;  how  men  of  genius  had 
strained  all  their  powers,  in  order  to  perfect  these  ships 
which  had  been  their  Fatherland's  safeguard.  A  couple  of 
times  the  tears  came  to  the  boy's  eyes,  as  he  heard  all  this. 

And  last,  they  went  into  an  open  court  where  the 
galley  models  of  old  men-of-war  were  grouped;  and  a 
more  curious  sight  the  boy  had  never  beheld;  for  these 


models  had  inconceivably  powerful  and  terror-striking  faces. 
They  were  big,  fearless  and  savage:  filled  with  the  same 
proud  spirit  that  had  fitted  out  the  great  ships.  They  were 
from  another  time  than  his.  He  fancied  that  he  shrivelled 
up  before  them. 

But  when  they  came  in  here,  the  bronze  man  said  to  the 
wooden  man :  '  Take  off  thy  hat,  Rosenbom,  for  those  that 
stand  here !  They  have  all  fought  for  the  Fatherland." 

And  Rosenbom,  like  the  bronze  man,  had  forgotten  why 
they  had  begun  this  tramp.  Without  thinking,  he  lifted 
the  wooden  hat  from  his  head  and  shouted : 

"I  take  off  my  hat  to  the  one  who  chose  the  harbour  and 
founded  the  shipyard  and  recreated  the  navy;  to  the  mon- 
arch who  has  awakened  all  this  into  life!" 

"Thanks,  Rosenbom!  That  was  well  spoken.  Rosen- 
bom is  a  fine  man.  But  what  is  this,  Rosenbom? " 

For  there  stood  Nils  Holgersson,  right  on  the  top  of 
Rosenbom's  bald  pate.  He  was  no  longer  afraid  but  doffed 
his  white  toboggan  hood,  and  shouted:  "Hurrah  for  you, 

The  bronze  man  struck  the  ground  hard  with  his  stick; 
but  the  boy  never  learned  what  he  had  intended  to  do  to  him, 
for  now  the  sun  ran  up,  and  straightway  both  the  bronze 
man  and  the  wooden  man  vanished  —  as  if  they  had  been 
made  of  mists.  While  he  still  stood  staring  after  them,  the 
wild  geese  flew  from  the  church  tower,  and  circled  back  and 
forth  over  the  city.  Presently  they  caught  sight  of  Nils; 
and  then  the  big  white  one  darted  down  from  the  sky  and 
fetched  him. 



Sunday,  April  third. 

wild  geese  went  out  on  a  wooded  island  to  feed. 
A     There  they  happened  to  run  across  a  few  gray  geese 
who  were  surprised  to  see  them  —  since  they  knew  very 
well  that  their  kinsmen,  the  wild  geese,  usually  travel  over 
the  interior  of  the  country. 

They  were  curious  and  inquisitive,  and  wouldn't  be  satis- 
fied with  less  than  the  wild  geese  telling  them  all  about  the 
hounding  which  they  had  to  take  from  Smirre  Fox. 
When  they  had  finished,  a  gray  goose,  who  appeared  to  be 
as  old  and  as  wise  as  Akka  herself,  said:  :'It  was  a  great 
misfortune  for  you  that  Smirre  Fox  was  declared  an  outlaw 
in  his  own  land.  He'll  be  sure  to  keep  his  word,  and  follow 
you  all  the  way  up  to  Lapland.  If  I  were  in  your  place,  I 
shouldn't  travel  north  over  Smaland.  I  should  take  the 
outside  route  over  Oland  instead,  to  throw  him  off  the 
track  entirely.  To  really  mislead  him,  you  must  remain 
for  a  couple  of  days  on  Gland's  southern  point.  There 
you'll  find  lots  of  food  and  lots  of  company.  I  don't  think 
you'll  regret  it,  if  you  go  over  there." 

This  was  certainly  sensible  advice,  and  the  wild  geese 
concluded  to  take  it.  As  soon  as  they  had  eaten  all  they 
could  hold,  they  started  on  the  journey  to  Oland.  None  of 
them  had  ever  been  there  before,  but  the  gray  goose  had 
given  them  careful  directions.  They  only  had  to  travel 



straight  south  until  they  came  to  a  large  bird-track,  which 
extended  all  along  the  Blekinge  Coast.  All  the  birds  who 
had  winter  homes  by  the  West  Coast  and  were  now  on  their 
way  to  Finland  and  Russia  flew  forward  there  —  and,  in 
passing,  they  were  always  in  the  habit  of  stopping  at  Oland 
to  rest.  The  wild  geese  would  have  no  trouble  in  finding 

That  day  it  was  perfectly  still  and  warm,  like  a  summer's 
day  —  the  best  weather  in  the  world  for  a  sea  trip.  The 
only  drawback  was  that  it  was  not  quite  clear,  for  the 
skies  were  gray  and  veiled.  Here  and  there  were  enormous 
clouds  which  hung  far  down  to  the  sea's  outer  edge,  ob- 
structing the  view. 

When  the  travellers  had  passed  beyond  the  rock-islands, 
the  sea  spread  out  so  smooth  and  mirror-like  that,  as  the  boy 
looked  down,  he  thought  the  water  had  disappeared.  There 
was  no  longer  any  earth  under  him.  He  had  only  mist  and 
sky  around  him.  He  grew  very  dizzy,  and  held  himself 
tight  on  the  goose-back  —  more  frightened  than  when  he 
sat  there  for  the  first  time.  It  seemed  as  if  he  couldn't  pos- 
sibly hold  on,  but  must  fall  in  some  direction. 

It  was  even  worse  when  they  reached  the  big  bird-track, 
of  which  the  gray  goose  had  spoken.  Flock  after  flock 
came  flying  in  exactly  the  same  direction.  They  seemed  to 
follow  a  fixed  route.  There  were  ducks  and  gray  geese, 
surf-scoters  and  guillemots,  loons  and  pin-tail  ducks  and 
mergansers  and  grebes  and  oyster-catchers  and  sea-grouse. 
But  now,  when  the  boy  leaned  forward  and  looked  in  the 
direction  where  the  sea  ought  to  lie,  he  saw  the  entire  bird 
procession  reflected  in  the  water.  But  he  was  so  dizzy  that 
he  didn't  understand  how  this  had  come  about:  he  thought 
that  all  the  birds  flew  with  their  bellies  upside  down.  Still 


he  didn't  wonder  so  much  at  this,  for  he  did  not  himself 
know  which  was  up  and  which  was  down. 

The  birds  were  tired  out  and  impatient  to  get  on.  Not 
one  of  them  shrieked  or  said  a  funny  thing,  and  this  made 
everything  seem  peculiarly  unreal. 

"Think,  if  we  have  travelled  away  from  the  earth!"  he 
said  to  himself.  "Think,  if  we  are  on  our  way  up  to 

He  saw  nothing  but  mists  and  birds  around  him,  and 
began  to  look  upon  it  as  reasonable  that  they  were  travelling 
heavenward.  He  was  glad,  and  wondered  what  he  should 
see  up  there.  The  dizziness  passed  all  at  once.  He  was  so 
exceedingly  happy  in  the  thought  that  he  was  on  his  way  to 
heaven  and  was  leaving  this  earth. 

Just  about  then  he  heard  a  couple  of  loud  shots,  and  saw 
two  white  smoke-columns  rise. 

There  was  a  sudden  awakening  and  an  unrest  among 
the  birds.  "Hunters!  Hunters!"  they  cried.  "Fly  high! 
Fly  away!" 

Then  the  boy  finally  saw  that  they  were  travelling  all  the 
while  over  the  seacoast  and  that  they  were  certainly  not  in 
heaven.  In  a  long  row  lay  small  boats  filled  with  hunters, 
who  fired  shot  upon  shot.  The  nearest  bird-flocks  hadn't 
noticed  them  in  time.  They  had  flown  too  low.  Several 
dark  bodies  sank  down  toward  the  sea;  and  for  every  one 
that  fell  there  arose  cries  of  anguish  from  the  living. 

It  was  strange  for  one  who  had  but  lately  believed  him- 
self in  heaven  to  wake  up  suddenly  to  such  fear  and  lamen- 
tation. Akka  shot  toward  the  heights  and  the  flock 
followed  with  the  greatest  possible  speed.  The  wild  geese 
got  safely  out  of  the  way,  but  the  boy  couldn't  get  over  his 
amazement.  "To  think  that  any  one  could  wish  to  shoot 


at  such  as  Akka  and  Yksi  and  Kaksi  and  the  goosey -gander 
and  the  others!  Human  beings  had  no  conception  of  what 
they  did." 

So  it  bore  on  again,  in  the  still  air,  and  all  was  as  quiet  as 
before,  but  for  some  of  the  tired  birds  calling  out  every  now 
and  then:  "Are  we  not  there  soon?  Are  you  sure  we're 
on  the  right  track?'3  Whereupon,  the  leaders  answered: 
"We  are  travelling  straight  to  Oland;  straight  to  Oland." 

The  gray  geese  wrere  tired  out,  and  the  loons  circled 
around  them.  :' Don't  be  in  such  a  rush!"  cried  the  ducks. 
" You'll  eat  up  all  the  food  before  we  get  there."  "Oh! 
there'll  be  enough  for  all  of  us,"  answered  the  loons. 

Before  they  had  gone  far  enough  to  sight  Oland,  a  light 
wind  blew  against  them.  It  brought  with  it  something  that 
looked  like  immense  clouds  of  white  smoke  —  as  if  there 
was  a  big  fire  somewhere. 

When  the  birds  saw  the  first  white  spiral  haze,  they  be- 
came uneasy  and  increased  their  speed.  But  that  wrhich 
resembled  smoke  blew  thicker  and  thicker,  and  at  last  it 
enveloped  them  altogether.  There  was  no  odour  of  smoke ; 
and  this  smoke  was  not  dark  and  dry,  but  white  and  damp. 
Suddenly  the  boy  realized  that  it  was  only  a  mist. 

When  the  mist  became  so  thick  that  they  couldn't  see 
a  goose-length  ahead,  the  birds  began  to  carry  on  like  real 
lunatics.  All  who  before  had  travelled  forward  in  such  per- 
fect order  now  began  to  play  in  the  mist.  They  flew  hither 
and  thither  to  entice  one  another  astray.  "Be  careful ! "  they 
cried.  "You're  only  travelling  round  and  round.  Turn 
back,  for  pity's  sake !  You'll  never  get  to  Oland  that  way." 

They  all  knew  perfectly  well  where  the  island  was,  but 
they  tried  their  best  to  lead  each  other  astray.  "Look  at 
those  wagtails!"  rang  out  in  the  mist.  "They  are  going 


back  toward  the  North  Sea!'3  "Have  a  care,  wild  geese!" 
shrieked  some  one  from  another  direction.  ''If  you  con- 
tinue like  this,  you'll  get  clear  up  to  Rtigen." 

There  was  of  course  no  danger  that  the  birds  who  were 
accustomed  to  travel  here  would  permit  themselves  to  be 
lured  in  a  wrong  direction.  But  the  ones  who  had  a  hard 
time  of  it  were  the  wild  geese!  The  jesters  observed  that 
they  were  uncertain  as  to  the  way,  and  did  all  they  could  to 
confuse  them. 

"Where  are  you  bound  for,  good  people?"  called  a  swan. 
He  came  right  up  to  Akka,  looking  sympathetic  and  se- 

"We  are  travelling  to  Oland;  we  have  never  been  there 
before,"  said  Akka.  She  thought  that  here  was  a  bird  to 
be  trusted. 

"  It's  too  bad,"  said  the  swan,  "they  have  lured  you  in  the 
wrong  direction.  You're  on  the  road  to  Blekinge.  Now 
come  with  me,  and  I'll  put  you  right!" 

So  he  flew  off  with  them,  and  when  he  had  taken  them  so 
far  away  from  the  track  that  they  could  hear  no  calls,  he 
disappeared  in  the  mist. 

They  flew  around  a  while  at  random.  They  had  barely 
succeeded  in  tracking  the  birds  when  a  duck  approached 
them.  "You'd  better  lie  down  on  the  water  until  the  mist 
clears,"  said  the  duck.  "It  is  evident  that  you  are  not 
accustomed  to  looking  out  for  yourself  on  journeys." 

Those  rogues  succeeded  in  making  Akka's  head  swim. 
As  near  as  the  boy  could  make  out,  the  wild  geese  circled 
round  and  round  for  a  long  time. 

"Be  careful!  Can't  you  see  that  you  are  flying  up  and 
down?"  shouted  a  loon  as  he  rushed  by. 

The  boy  positively  clutched    the   goosey-gander  around 


the  neck.  This  was  something  which  he  had  feared  for  a 
long  time. 

If  they  had  not  heard  a  rolling  and  muffled  sound  in  the 
distance,  no  one  could  have  told  when  they  would  have 

Then  Akka  craned  her  neck,  snapped  hard  with  her 
wings,  and  rushed  on  at  full  speed.  Now  she  had  something 
to  go  by.  The  gray  goose  had  told  her  not  to  light  on 
Oland's  southern  point,  because  there  was  a  cannon  there, 
which  the  people  used  to  shoot  at  the  mist.  Now  she 
knew  the  way,  and  now  no  one  in  the  world  could  lead  her 



April,  third  to  sixth. 

ON  THE  most  southerly  part  of  Oland  lies  a  royal 
demesne,  called  Ottenby.  It  is  a  rather  large  estate 
which  extends  from  shore  to  shore,  straight  across  the 
island;  and  it  is  remarkable  in  that  it  has  always  been  a 
haunt  for  large  bird-companies. 

In  the  Seventeenth  Century,  when  the  kings  used  to  go 
over  to  Oland  to  hunt,  the  entire  estate  was  simply  a  deer 
park.  In  the  Eighteenth  Century  there  was  a  stud  there, 
where  blooded  race-horses  were  bred;  and  a  sheep  farm, 
where  hundreds  of  sheep  were  maintained.  In  our  day 
you'll  find  neither  blooded  horses  nor  sheep  at  Ottenby, 
but  great  herds  of  young  horses,  which  are  to  be  used  by 
the  cavalry.  And  in  all  the  land  there  could  be  no  better 
abode  for  animals. 

Along  the  extreme  eastern  shore  lies  the  old  sheep  meadow 
which  is  a  mile  and  a  half  long,  and  the  largest  meadow  in 
all  Oland.  There  animals  can  graze  and  play  and  run 
about  as  free  as  if  they  were  in  a  wilderness.  And  there  you 
will  find  the  celebrated  Ottenby  Grove  with  the  hundred- 
year-old  oaks,  which  give  shade  from  the  sun,  and  shelter 
from  the  severe  Oland  winds.  And  we  must  not  forget  the 
long  Ottenby  wall,  which  stretches  from  shore  to  shore  and 
separates  Ottenby  from  the  rest  of  the  island,  so  that  the 
animals  may  know  how  far  the  old  royal  demesne  extends 



and  be  careful  about  getting  in  on  other  ground,  where  they 
are  not  so  well  protected. 

You'll  find  plenty  of  tame  animals  at  Ottenby,  but  that 
isn't  all.  One  could  almost  believe  that  the  wild  ones  also 
felt  that  on  an  old  crown  property  both  wild  and  tame 
creatures  can  count  upon  shelter  and  protection  —  since 
they  venture  there  in  such  great  numbers. 

Besides,  there  are  still  a  few  stags  of  the  old  stock  left; 
and  burrow-ducks,  and  partridges  love  to  live  there,  and  it 
offers  a  resting  place  in  spring  and  late  summer  for  thou- 
sands of  migratory  birds.  Above  all,  it  is  on  the  swampy 
eastern  shore  below  the  sheep  meadow  where  the  migratory 
birds  alight  to  rest  and  feed. 

When  the  wild  geese  and  Nils  had  finally  found  their  way 
to  Oland,  they  came  down,  like  all  the  rest,  on  the  shore 
near  the  sheep  meadow.  The  mist  lay  thick  over  the  island > 
as  well  as  over  the  sea.  But  still  the  boy  was  amazed  at 
all  the  birds  which  he  discovered  only  on  the  little  narrow 
stretch  of  shore  which  he  could  see. 

It  was  a  low  sand-shore  with  stones  and  pools,  and  heaps 
of  cast-up  seaweed.  If  the  boy  had  been  allowed  to  choose, 
it  isn't  likely  that  he  would  have  thought  of  alighting  there; 
but  the  birds  probably  looked  upon  this  as  a  veritable  para- 
dise. Ducks  and  geese  walked  about  and  fed  on  the  meadow; 
nearer  to  the  water  ran  snipe,  and  other  coast-birds.  The 
loons  lay  in  the  sea  and  fished,  but  the  greatest  life  and 
movement  was  upon  the  seaweed  banks  along  the  coast. 
There  the  birds  stood  side  by  side  close  together  and 
gobbled  grub-worms  which  must  have  been  found  there  in 
limitless  numbers,  for  it  was  very  evident  that  there  was 
never  any  complaint  over  a  lack  of  food. 

The  great  majority  were  going  to  travel  farther,  and  had 


only  alighted  to  take  a  short  rest;  and  as  soon  as  the 
leader  of  a  flock  thought  his  comrades  sufficiently  re- 
freshed he  said:  "If  you  are  ready  now,  we  may  as  well 
move  on." 

"  No,  wait,  wait !  We  haven't  had  anything  like  enough," 
cried  the  company. 

'You  surely  don't  believe  that  I  intend  to  let  you  eat  so 
much  that  you  will  not  be  able  to  move?"  said  the  leader, 
flapping  his  wings  and  starting  off.  Along  the  outermost 
seaweed  banks  lay  a  flock  of  swans.  They  didn't  bother 
to  go  on  land,  but  rested  themselves  by  lying  and  rocking 
on  the  water.  Now  and  then  they  would  thrust  their 
necks  under  the  water  and  bring  up  food  from  the  sea- 
bottom.  When  they  got  hold  of  anything  very  good,  they 
indulged  in  loud  shouts  that  sounded  like  trumpet  calls. 

When  the  boy  heard  that  there  were  swans  on  the  shoals, 
he  hurried  out  to  the  seaweed  banks.  He  had  never 
before  seen  wild  swans  at  close  range.  He  had  the  good 
luck  to  get  quite  close  to  them. 

The  boy  was  not  the  only  one  who  had  heard  the  swans. 
WTild  geese,  gray  geese  and  loons  swam  out  between  the 
banks,  formed  a  ring  around  the  swans  and  stared  at  them. 
The  swans  ruffled  their  feathers,  raised  their  wings  like 
sails,  and  stretched  their  necks  high  in  the  air.  Occasion- 
ally one  and  another  of  them  swam  up  to  a  goose,  or  a 
great  loon,  or  a  diving-duck,  and  said  a  few  words.  And 
then  it  appeared  as  though  the  one  addressed  hardly  dared 
raise  his  bill  to  reply. 

But  there  was  a  little  loon  —  a  tiny  mischievous 
baggage  —  that  couldn't  stand  all  this  ceremony.  He 
made  a  quick  dive,  and  disappeared.  Soon  after  that,  one 
of  the  swans  let  out  a  scream,  and  swam  off  so  quickly  that 


the  water  foamed.  Then  he  stopped  and  began  to  look 
majestic  once  more.  Presently  another  one  shrieked  in  the 
same  way  as  the  first  one,  and  then  a  third. 

The  little  loon  wasn't  able  to  stay  under  water  any  longer, 
but  bobbed  up  to  the  water's  edge,  little  and  black  and 
venomous.  The  swans  rushed  toward  him;  but  when  they 
saw  what  a  poor  little  wretch  it  was,  they  turned  abruptly 
-  as  if  they  considered  themselves  too  good  to  quarrel  with 
him.  Then  the  little  loon  dived  again,  and  pinched  their 
feet.  It  certainly  must  have  hurt;  but  the  worst  was  that 
they  could  not  maintain  their  dignity.  At  once  they  took  a 
decided  stand.  They  began  to  beat  the  air  with  their  wings 
so  that  it  thundered,  came  forward  a  bit  —  as  if  running 
on  the  water  —  finally  they  got  wind  under  their  wings,  and 

When  the  swans  were  gone  they  were  greatly  missed ;  and 
those  who  had  but  lately  been  amused  by  the  little  loon's 
antics  scolded  him  for  his  thoughtlessness. 

The  boy  walked  back  toward  firm  land  again,  where  he 
stationed  himself  to  watch  the  pool-snipe  play.  They  re- 
sembled small  storks,  and  like  these,  had  small  bodies,  tall 
legs,  long  necks,  and  light,  swaying  movements;  only  they 
were  not  gray,  but  brown.  They  stood  in  a  long  row  on  the 
shore  where  it  was  washed  by  waves.  As  soon  as  a  wave 
rolled  in,  the  whole  row  ran  backward;  as  soon  as  it  receded, 
they  followed  it.  And  they  kept  this  up  for  hours. 

The  showiest  of  all  the  birds  were  the  burrow-ducks. 
They  were  undoubtedly  related  to  the  ordinary  ducks;  for, 
like  these,  they  too  had  a  thick-set  body,  a  broad  bill,  and 
webbed  feet;  but  they  were  much  more  elaborately  gotten 
up.  The  feather  dress  itself  was  white;  around  the  neck 
they  wore  a  broad  gold  band;  the  wing-mirror  shimmered 


in  green,  red,  and  black;  the  wing-tips  were  black,  the  head 
was  a  dark  green  and  shone  like  satin. 

As  soon  as  any  of  these  appeared  on  the  shore,  the  others 
would  say:  "Now  just  look  at  those  freaks!  They  know 
how  to  tog  themselves  out."  "If  they  were  not  so  con- 
spicuous, they  wouldn't  have  to  dig  their  nests  in  the  earth, 
but  could  lie  above  ground,  like  any  one  else,"  said  a  brown 
mallard-duck.  "They  may  try  as  much  as  they  please, 
but  they'll  never  get  anywhere  with  such  noses,"  remarked 
a  gray  goose.  And  this  was  actually  true.  The  burrow- 
ducks  have  a  big  knob  at  the  base  of  the  bill,  which  spoils 
their  appearance. 

Close  to  the  shore,  sea-gulls  and  sea-swallows  moved  for- 
ward in  the  water,  and  fished.  '  What  kind  of  fish  are  you 
catching?'5  asked  a  wild  goose.  "Stickleback !-- Oland 
stickleback.  It's  the  best  stickleback  in  the  world,"  said 
a  gull.  "Won't  you  taste  of  it?"  And  he  flew  up  to  the 
goose  with  his  mouth  full  of  the  little  fishes,  and  wanted 
to  give  her  some.  "Ugh!  Do  you  think  that  I  eat  such 
filth?"  said  the  wild  goose  in  disgust. 

The  next  morning  it  was  just  as  cloudy.  The  wild  geese 
walked  about  on  the  meadow  and  fed ;  but  the  boy  had  gone 
to  the  seashore  to  gather  mussels.  There  were  plenty  of 
them;  and  when  he  thought  that  the  next  day,  perhaps,  they 
would  be  in  some  place  where  they  couldn't  get  any  food  at 
all,  he  determined  that  he  would  try  to  make  himself  a  little 
bag,  which  he  could  fill  with  mussels.  He  found  an  old 
sedge  on  the  meadow  which  was  strong  and  tough ;  and  out 
of  this  he  began  to  braid  a  knapsack.  He  worked  at  it 
for  several  hours,  but  when  finished  he  was  well  satisfied 
with  it. 


At  dinner  time  all  the  wild  geese  came  running  and  asked 
him  if  he  had  seen  anything  of  the  white  goosey-gander. 
"No,  he  has  not  been  with  me,"  said  the  boy.  'We  had 
him  with  us  all  along  until  just  lately,"  said  Akka,"but  now 
we  no  longer  know  where  he's  to  be  found." 

The  boy  jumped  up,  and  was  terribly  frightened.  He 
asked  if  any  fox  or  eagle  had  put  in  an  appearance,  or  if  any 
human  being  had  been  seen  in  the  neighbourhood.  But  no 
one  had  noticed  anything  dangerous.  The  goosey-gander 
had  probably  lost  his  way  in  the  mist. 

But  to  the  boy  the  misfortune  was  just  as  great  no  matter 
how  the  white  one  had  been  lost,  and  he  started  off 
immediately  to  hunt  for  him.  The  mist  shielded  him,  so 
that  he  could  run  wherever  he  wished  without  being  seen, 
but  it  also  prevented  him  from  seeing.  He  ran  southward 
along  the  shore  —  all  the  way  down  to  the  lighthouse  and 
the  mist  cannon  on  the  island's  extreme  point.  There  was 
the  same  bird  confusion  everywhere,  but  no  goosey-gander. 
He  ventured  over  to  Ottenby  estate,  and  he  searched  every 
one  of  the  old,  hollow  oaks  in  Ottenby  grove,  but  he  found 
no  trace  of  the  goosey-gander. 

He  searched  until  it  began  to  grow  dark.  Then  he  had  to 
turn  back  to  the  eastern  shore.  He  walked  with  heavy  steps 
and  was  fearfully  blue.  He  didn't  know  what  would  be- 
come of  him  if  he  couldn't  find  the  goosey-gander.  There 
was  no  one  whom  he  could  spare  less. 

But  what  was  that  big,  white  object  coming  toward  him 
in  the  mist  if  it  wasn't  the  goosey-gander?  He  was  all 
right,  and  very  glad  that  at  last  he  had  been  able  to  find  his 
way  back  to  the  others.  The  mist  had  made  him  so  dizzy, 
he  said,  that  he  had  wandered  around  on  the  big  meadow  all 
day  long.  The  boy  threw  his  arms  around  his  neck,  for 


very  joy,  and  begged  him  to  take  care  of  himself  and  not 
to  wander  away  from  the  others.  And  he  promised,  posi- 
tively, that  he  never  would  do  so  again.  No,  never  again. 

But  next  morning,  when  the  boy  was  walking  along  the 

beach  looking  for  mussels,  the  geese  came  running  and  asked 

if  he  had  seen  the  goosey-gander.   No,  of  course  he  hadn't. 

'Well,  then,  the  goosey-gander  was  lost  again.     He  had 

gone  astray  in  the  mist,  just  as  on  the  day  before." 

The  boy  ran  off  in  great  alarm  and  began  to  search.  He 
found  one  place  where  the  Ottenby  wall  was  so  tumble- 
down that  he  could  climb  over  it.  Later  he  went  about 
on  the  shore  —  which  gradually  widened  and  became 
so  large  that  there  was  room  for  fields  and  meadows  and 
farms  —  then  up  on  the  flat  highland,  which  lay  in  the 
middle  of  the  island,  where  there  were  no  buildings  except 
windmills,  and  where  the  turf  wTas  so  thin  that  the  white 
cement  shone  through  it. 

Meanwhile,  he  could  not  find  the  goosey-gander;  and  as 
it  was  drawing  on  toward  evening  and  the  boy  must  return 
to  the  beach,  he  couldn't  believe  anything  but  that  his 
travelling  companion  was  lost.  He  was  so  depressed,  he 
did  not  know  what  to  do  with  himself. 

He  had  already  clambered  over  the  wall  again,  when  he 
heard  a  crash  close  beside  him.  As  he  turned  to  see  what 
it  was  that  had  fallen,  he  distinguished  something  that 
moved  on  a  stone-heap  close  to  the  wall.  He  stole  nearer, 
and  saw  the  goosey-gander  come  trudging  wrearily  over  the 
stone-heap,  with  several  long  fibres  in  his  mouth.  The 
goosey-gander  did  not  see  the  boy,  and  the  boy  did  not  call 
to  him,  but  thought  it  advisable  to  find  out  first  wrhy  the 
goosey-gander  time  and  again  disappeared  in  this  manner. 

And  he  soon  learned  the  cause  of  it.     Up  in  the  stone-heap 


lay  a  young  gray  goose,  who  cried  with  joy  when  the  goosey- 
gander  came.  The  boy  crept  near  to  them,  so  that  he 
heard  what  they  said.  Then  he  found  out  that  the  gray 
goose  was  wounded  in  one  wing,  so  that  she  could  not  fly, 
and  that  her  flock  had  flown  away  and  had  left  her  all  alone. 
She  was  near  death's  door  with  hunger,  when  the  white 
goosey-gander  heard  her  call,  the  other  day,  and  sought  her 
out.  Ever  since,  he  had  been  carrying  food  to  her.  Both 
of  them  hoped  that  she  would  be  well  before  his  flock  left 
the  island,  but,  as  yet,  she  could  neither  fly  nor  walk.  She 
was  very  much  worried  over  this,  but  he  comforted  her 
with  the  thought  that  he  shouldn't  travel  for  a  long  time. 
At  last  he  bade  her  good-night,  and  promised  to  come  the 
next  day. 

The  boy  let  the  goosey-gander  go;  and  as  soon  as  he  was 
gone,  he,  in  turn,  stole  up  to  the  stone-heap.  He  was  angry 
because  he  had  been  deceived,  and  now  he  wanted  to  say 
to  that  gray  goose  that  the  goosey -gander  was  his  property. 
He  was  going  to  take  the  boy  up  to  Lapland,  and  there 
would  be  110  talk  of  his  staying  here  on  her  account.  But 
now,  when  he  saw  the  young  gray  goose  close  to,  he  under- 
stood not  only  why  the  goosey -gander  had  gone  and  carried 
food  to  her  for  two  days,  but  also  why  he  had  not  wished  to 
mention  the  fact  that  he  had  helped  her.  She  had  the 
prettiest  little  head;  her  feather-dress  was  like  soft  satin, 
and  her  eyes  were  mild  and  pleading. 

When  she  saw  the  boy,  she  wanted  to  run  away;  but  the 
left  wing  was  out  of  joint  and  dragged  on  the  ground,  so 
that  it  interfered  with  her  movements. 

'You  mustn't  be  afraid  of  me,"  said  the  boy,  and  didn't 
look  nearly  so  angry  as  he  had  intended  to  appear.  'I'm 
Thurnbietot,  Morten  Goosey-gander's  comrade,"  he  an- 


nounced.  Then  he  stood  there,  and  didn't  know  what  he 
wanted  to  say. 

Occasionally  one  finds  something  among  animals  which 
makes  one  wonder  what  sort  of  creatures  they  really  are. 
One  is  almost  afraid  that  they  may  be  transformed  human 
beings.  It  was  something  like  this  with  the  gray  goose. 
As  soon  as  Thumbietot  said  who  he  was,  she  lowered  her 
neck  and  head  very  charmingly  before  him,  and  said  in 
a  voice  so  sweet  that  he  couldn't  believe  it  was  a  goose 
that  spoke:  "I  am  very  glad  that  you  have  come  here 
to  help  me.  The  white  goosey-gander  has  told  me  that 
no  one  is  so  wise  and  so  good  as  you." 

She  said  this  with  such  dignity  that  the  boy  grew  really 
embarrassed.  "This  surely  can't  be  any  bird,"  thought 
he.  "It  is  certainly  some  bewitched  princess." 

He  was  filled  with  a  desire  to  help  her,  and  ran  his  hand 
under  the  feathers,  and  felt  along  the  wing-bone.  The 
bone  was  not  broken,  but  there  was  something  wrong  with 
the  joint.  He  put  his  finger  down  into  the  empty  socket. 
"  Be  careful,  now ! "  he  said,  as  he  got  a  firm  grip  on  the  bone- 
pipe  and  fitted  it  into  the  place  where  it  ought  to  be.  He 
did  it  rather  quickly  and  well,  considering  it  was  the  first 
time  that  he  had  attempted  anything  of  the  sort.  But  it 
must  have  hurt  very  much,  for  the  poor  young  goose  uttered 
a  shrill  cry,  then  sank  down  among  the  stones  without  show- 
ing a  sign  of  life. 

The  boy  was  terribly  frightened.  He  had  only  wished  to 
help  her,  and  now  she  was  dead.  He  made  a  big  jump  from 
the  stone-heap,  and  ran  away.  He  thought  it  was  as  though 
he  had  murdered  a  human  being. 

The  next  morning  the  air  was  clear  and  free  from  mist, 
and  Akka  said  that  now  they  should  continue  their  journey. 


All  the  others  were  willing  to  go,  but  the  white  goosey- 
gander  made  excuses.  The  boy  understood  well  enough 
that  he  didn't  care  to  leave  the  gray  goose.  Akka  did  not 
listen  to  him,  but  started  off. 

The  boy  jumped  upon  the  goosey-gander's  back,  and  the 
white  one  followed  the  flock  —  albeit  slowly  and  unwill- 
ingly. The  boy  was  mighty  glad  that  they  could  fly  away 
from  the  island.  He  was  conscience-stricken  on  account  of 
the  gray  goose,  and  didn't  want  to  tell  the  goosey-gander 
what  had  happened  when  he  had  tried  to  cure  her.  It  would 
probably  be  best  if  Morten  Goosey-gander  never  found  out 
about  this,  he  thought,  though  he  wondered,  at  the  same  time, 
how  the  white  one  had  the  heart  to  leave  the  gray  goose. 

But  suddenly  the  goosey-gander  turned.  The  thought 
of  the  young  gray  goose  had  overpowered  him.  It  could 
go  as  it  would  with  the  Lapland  trip:  he  couldn't  go  with 
the  others  when  he  knew  that  she  was  alone  and  ill,  and 
would  starve  to  death.  A  few  wing-strokes  and  he  was 
over  by  the  stone-heap,  but  now  there  lay  no  young  gray 
goose  between  the  stones.  "Dunfin!  Dunfin!  Where  art 
thou?"  called  the  goosey -gander. 

'The  fox  has  probably  been  here  and  taken  her,"  thought 
the  boy.  But  at  that  moment  he  heard  a  sweet  voice  an- 
swer the  goosey-gander.  "Here  am  I,  goosey-gander;  here 
am  I!  I  have  only  been  taking  a  morning  bath."  And 
up  from  the  water  came  the  little  gray  goose  —  fresh  and 
in  good  trim  —  and  told  how  Thumbietot  had  pulled  her 
wing  into  place,  and  how  she  was  entirely  well,  and  ready 
to  go  with  them  on  the  journey. 

The  drops  of  water  lay  like  pearl-dew  on  her  shimmery 
satin-like  feathers,  and  again  Thumbietot  thought  that  she 
was  a  real  little  princess. 




Wednesday,  April  sixth. 

THE  geese  flew  ahead  over  the  long  island  which  lay 
distinctly  visible  under  them.  The  boy  felt  happy 
and  light  of  heart  during  the  trip.  He  was  just  as  pleased 
and  contented  now  as  he  had  been  glum  and  depressed  the 
day  before,  when  he  roamed  around  on  the  island  hunting 
for  the  goosey-gander. 

He  saw  now  that  the  interior  of  the  island  consisted  of  a 
barren  high  plain,  with  a  wreath  of  fertile  land  along  the 
coast;  and  he  began  to  comprehend  the  meaning  of  some- 
thing which  he  had  heard  the  other  evening. 

He  had  just  seated  himself  by  one  of  the  many  windmills 
on  the  highland  to  rest  a  bit,  when  a  couple  of  shepherds 
came  along  with  their  dogs  beside  them,  and  a  large  flock  of 
sheep  in  their  train.  The  boy  was  not  afraid  since  he  was 
well  hidden  under  the  windmill  steps.  But  it  so  happened 
that  the  shepherds  came  and  seated  themselves  on  the  same 
steps,  and  then  there  was  nothing  for  him  to  do  but  keep 
perfectly  still. 

One  of  the  shepherds  was  young,  and  looked  about  as 
folks  do  mostly ;  the  other  was  an  old  queer  one.  His  body 
was  large  and  knotty,  but  the  head  was  small,  and  the  face 
had  sensitive  and  delicate  features  It  appeared  as  though 
the  body  and  head  didn't  belong  together. 

He  sat  silent  a  while,  gazing  into  the  mist  with  an  unutter- 



ably  weary  expression.  Then  he  began  to  talk  to  his  conv 
panion.  Presently  the  other  took  from  his  knapsack  some 
bread  and  cheese,  to  eat  his  evening  meal.  He  answered 
almost  nothing,  but  listened  very  patiently,  as  if  he  were 
thinking:  "I  may  as  well  give  you  the  pleasure  of  chat- 
tering a  while." 

"Now  I  shall  tell  you  something,  Eric,"  said  the  old  shep- 
herd. "I  have  figured  out  that  in  former  days,  when  both 
human  beings  and  animals  were  much  larger  than  now, 
that  the  butterflies,  too,  must  have  been  uncommonly 
large.  And  there  was  once  a  butterfly  that  was  many 
miles  long,  and  had  wings  as  wide  as  seas.  Those  wings 
were  blue,  and  shone  like  silver,  and  so  gorgeous  that,  when 
the  butterfly  was  out  flying,  all  the  other  animals  stood  still 
and  stared  at  it.  It  had  this  drawback,  however,  that  it 
was  too  large.  The  wings  had  hard  work  to  carry  it.  But 
probably  all  would  have  gone  very  well  if  the  butterfly 
had  been  wise  enough  to  remain  on  the  hillside.  But  it 
wasn't;  it  ventured  out  over  the  Baltic  Sea.  And  it  hadn't 
got  very  far  before  the  storm  came  along  and  began  to  tear 
at  its  wings.  Well,  it's  easy  to  understand,  Eric,  how  things 
would  go  when  the  Baltic  Sea  storm  began  to  wrestle  with 
frail  butterfly-wings.  It  wasn't  long  before  they  were  torn 
away  and  scattered;  and  then,  of  course,  the  poor  butter- 
fly fell  into  the  sea.  At  first  it  was  tossed  back  and 
forth  on  the  billows,  and  then  stranded  upon  a  few  cliff- 
foundations  just  beyond  Smaland.  And  there  it  lay  —  large 
and  long  as  it  was. 

"Now  I  think,  Eric,  that  if  the  butterfly  had  dropped  on 
land,  it  would  soon  have  rotted  and  fallen  apart.  But  since 
it  fell  into  the  sea,  it  was  soaked  through  and  through  with 
lime,  and  became  as  hard  as  a  stone.  You  know,  of  course, 


that  we  have  found  stones  on  the  shore  which  are  nothing 
but  petrified  worms.  Now  I  believe  that  it  went  the  same 
way  with  the  big  butterfly-body.  I  believe  that  it  turned 
where  it  lay  into  a  long,  narrow  mountain  out  in  the  Baltic 
Sea.  Don't  you?  " 

He  paused  for  a  reply,  and  the  other  nodded  to  him. 
"Go  on,  so  I  may  hear  what  you  are  driving  at,"  said 

"And  mark  now,  Eric,  that  this  very  Oland,  where  you 
and  I  live,  is  nothing  else  than  the  old  butterfly-body.  If 
one  only  stops  to  think  one  can  see  that  the  island  is  a 
butterfly.  Toward  the  north,  the  slender  fore-body  and 
the  round  head  can  be  seen,  and  toward  the  south  the 
lower  body,  which  first  broadens  out  and  then  narrows 
down  to  a  sharp  point." 

Here  he  paused  once  more  and  looked  rather  quizzically 
at  his  companion  to  see  how  he  took  this  assertion.  But  the 
young  man  kept  right  on  eating  and  nodded  to  him  to 

"As  soon  as  the  butterfly  had  been  changed  into  a  lime- 
stone rock,  many  different  kinds  of  seeds  of  herbs  and  trees 
came  travelling  along  with  the  winds,  and  wanted  to  take 
root  on  itc  It  was  a  long  time  before  anything  but  sedge 
could  grow  there.  Then  came  sheep-sorrel,  the  rock-rose 
and  the  thorn-brush.  But  even  to-day  there  is  not  so  much 
that  grows  on  Alvaret  that  the  mountain  is  well  covered,  for 
it  is  barren  here  and  there.  And  no  one  would  think  of 
ploughing  and  sowing  up  here,  where  the  earth-crust  is  so 
thin.  But  if  you  will  grant  that  Alvaret  and  the  strong- 
holds around  it  are  made  of  the  butterfly-body,  then  you 
may  well  have  the  right  to  ask  what  that  land  which  lies 
beneath  the  strongholds  is." 


"Yes,  it  is  just  that,"  said  he  who  was  eating.  'That  I 
should  indeed  like  to  know." 

"Well,  you  must  remember  that  Oland  has  lain  in  the  sea 
a  good  many  years,  and  meantime  all  the  things  which 
tumble  around  with  the  waves  -  -  seaweed  and  sand  and 
clams  • —  have  gathered  around  it,  and  have  stayed  there. 
Then,  too,  stone  and  gravel  have  fallen  down  from  both  the 
eastern  and  the  western  strongholds.  In  this  way  the  island 
has  acquired  wide  shores,  where  grain  and  flowers  and  trees 
can  grow. 

"Up  here,  on  the  hard  butterfly-back,  only  sheep  and 
cows  and  ponies  go  about.  The  only  birds  that  live  here 
are  humble  lapwings  and  plover,  and  there  are  no  buildings 
except  windmills  and  a  few  stone  huts,  where  we  shepherds 
crawl  in.  But  down  on  the  coast  lie  big  villages  and 
churches  and  parishes  and  fishing  hamlets  and  a  whole 

He  looked  searchingly  at  his  comrade,  who  had  finished 
his  meal,  and  was  tying  up  the  food-sack.  "I  wonder 
where  you  will  end  with  all  this,"  said  he. 

"It  is  only  this  that  I  would  know,"  insisted  the  shepherd, 
lowering  his  voice  so  that  he  almost  whispered  the  words, 
and  peering  into  the  mist  with  his  small  eyes,  which  ap- 
peared to  be  worn  out  from  spying  after  all  that  which  does 
not  exist  —  "Only  this:  If  the  peasants  who  live  on  the 
built-up  farms  below  the  strongholds,  or  the  fishermen  who 
take  the  small  herring  from  the  sea,  or  the  merchants  in 
Borgholm,  or  the  bathing  guests  who  come  here  every 
summer,  or  the  tourists  who  wander  around  in  Borgholm's 
old  castle  ruin,  or  the  sportsmen  who  come  here  in  the  fall 
to  hunt  partridges,  or  the  painters  who  sit  here  on  Alvaret 
and  paint  the  sheep  and  windmills  —  I  should  like  to  know 


if  any  of  them  understand  that  this  island  has  been  a 
butterfly  which  once  flew  about  with  great  shimmery  wings." 
"Surely  it  must  have  occurred  to  some  of  them,"  the 
young  shepherd  put  in,  "as  they  sat  at  the  edge  of  the 
stronghold  of  an  evening,  and  heard  the  nightingales  trill  in 
the  groves  below  them,  and  looked  over  Kalmar  Sound,  that 
this  island  could  not  have  come  into  existence  in  the  same 
way  as  the  others." 

"I  want  to  ask,"  said  the  old  one,  "if  no  one  has  felt  a 
desire  to  give  wings  to  the  windmills  —  so  large  that  they 
could  reach  to  heaven ;  so  large  that  they  could  lift  the  whole 
island  out  of  the  sea,  and  let  it  fly  like  a  butterfly  among 

"It  may  be  possible  that  there  is  something  in  what  you 
say,"  returned  the  young  man;  "for  on  summer  nights  when 
the  heavens  widen  and  open  over  the  island,  I  have  some- 
times thought  that  it  was  as  if  it  wanted  to  raise  itself  from 
the  sea,  and  fly  away." 

But  when  the  old  man  had  finally  got  the  young  man  to 
talk,  he  didn't  listen  to  him  very  much.  :'I  should  like  to 
know,"  resumed  the  old  man  in  a  low  tone,  "if  any  one  can 
explain  why  one  feels  such  a  sense  of  longing  up  here  on 
Alvaret.  I  have  felt  it  every  day  of  my  life ;  and  I  think  it 
preys  upon  each  and  every  one  who  must  go  about  here. 
I  want  to  know  if  no  one  else  has  understood  that  all  this 
wistfulness  is  due  to  the  fact  that  the  whole  island  is  a 
butterfly  that  longs  for  its  wings." 



Friday,  April  eighth. 

THE  wild  geese  had  spent  the  night  on  Oland's  northern 
point,  and  were  now  on  their  way  to  the  continent. 
A  strong  south  wind  blew  over  Kalmar  Sound,  and  they  had 
been  swept  northward.  Still  they  worked  their  way  toward 
land  with  good  speed.  But  when  they  were  nearing  the 
first  islands  a  powerful  rumbling  was  heard,  as  if  throngs  of 
strong-winged  birds  were  approaching;  and  all  at  once  the 
water  under  them  became  perfectly  black.  Akka  drew  in 
her  wings  so  suddenly  that  she  almost  stood  still  in  the  air. 
Thereupon,  she  sank  down  to  light  on  the  surface  of  the 
sea.  But  before  the  geese  reached  the  water,  the  storm 
had  caught  up  with  them.  It  drove  before  it  fogs,  salt 
scum,  and  small  birds;  it  also  caught  the  wild  geese,  threw 
them  on  end,  and  cast  them  out  to  sea. 

It  was  a  rough  storm.  The  wild  geese  tried  time  and  again 
to  turn  back,  but  couldn't  do  it,  instead  they  were  driven  far- 
ther and  farther  out.  The  storm  had  already  blown  them 
past  Oland,  and  the  sea  lay  before  them  —  empty  and 
desolate.  There  was  nothing  for  them  to  do  but  keep  out 
of  the  water. 

When  Akka  observed  that  they  were  unable  to  turn  back, 
she  thought  it  needless  to  let  the  storm  drive  them  over  the 










entire  Baltic.  Therefore  she  sank  down  to  the  water. 
Now  the  sea  was  raging,  and  increasing  in  violence  every 
second.  The  sea-green  billows  rolled  forward  with  seeth- 
ing foam  on  their  crests.  Each  surged  higher  than  the 
last.  It  was  as  if  they  raced  with  each  other  to  see  which 
could  foam  the  wildest.  But  the  wild  geese  were  not 
afraid  of  the  swells.  On  the  contrary,  these  seemed  to  afford 
them  much  pleasure.  They  did  not  strain  themselves 
swimming,  but  lay  and  let  themselves  be  washed  up  with 
the  swells  and  down  in  the  water-dales,  and  had  just  as 
much  fun  as  children  in  a  swing.  Their  only  anxiety  was 
that  the  flock  might  be  separated.  The  few  land-birds 
who  drove  by,  up  in  the  storm,  cried  with  envy:  'There  is 
no  danger  for  you  who  can  swim." 

But  the  wild  geese  were  certainly  not  out  of  all  danger. 
In  the  first  place,  the  rocking  made  them  helplessly  sleepy. 
Time  and  again  they  wanted  to  turn  their  heads,  poke 
their  bills  under  their  wrings,  and  go  to  sleep.  Nothing 
can  be  more  dangerous  than  to  fall  asleep  in  that  way ;  and 
Akka  kept  calling  out  all  the  while:  "Don't  go  to  sleep, 
wild  geese!  He  that  falls  asleep  will  get  away  from  the 
flock.  He  that  gets  away  from  the  flock  is  lost." 

Despite  all  attempts  at  resistance  one  after  another  fell 
asleep;  and  Akka  herself  came  pretty  near  dozing  off,  when 
she  suddenly  saw  something  round  and  dark  rise  to  the  top 
of  a  wave.  "Seals!  Seals!  Seals!"  cried  Akka  in  a  high, 
shrill  voice,  and  rose  into  the  air  with  resounding  wing- 
strokes.  It  was  just  at  the  crucial  moment.  Before  the 
last  wild  goose  had  time  to  come  up  from  the  water,  the 
seals  were  so  close  to  her  that  they  made  a  grab  for  her  feet. 

Then  the  wild  geese  were  once  more  up  in  the  storm  which 
drove  them  before  it  out  to  sea.  No  rest  did  it  allow  either 


itself  or  the  wild  geese;  and  no  land  did  they  sight  —  only 
desolate  sea. 

They  lit  on  the  water  again,  as  soon  as  they  dared  ven- 
ture. But  after  rocking  upon  the  waves  for  a  while,  they 
grew  sleepy  again.  And  when  they  fell  asleep,  the  seals 
came  swimming.  If  old  Akka  had  not  been  so  wakeful, 
not  one  of  the  geese  would  have  escaped. 

All  day  the  storm  raged;  and  it  caused  fearful  havoc 
among  the  crowds  of  little  birds,  which  at  this  time  of  year 
were  migrating.  Some  were  driven  from  their  course  to 
foreign  lands,  where  they  died  of  starvation;  others  became 
so  exhausted  that  they  sank  down  to  the  sea  and  were 
drowned.  Many  were  crushed  against  the  cliff-walls,  and 
many  became  a  prey  to  the  seals. 

The  storm  continued  all  day,  and,  at  last,  Akka  began  to 
wonder  if  she  and  her  flock  would  perish.  They  were  now 
dead  tired,  and  nowhere  did  they  see  any  place  where  they 
might  rest.  At  the  approach  of  evening  she  no  longer  dared 
lie  down  on  the  sea,  for  now  it  filled  up  all  of  a  sudden  with 
large  ice-cakes,  which  struck  against  each  other,  and  she 
feared  they  would  be  crushed  between  the  floes.  A  couple 
of  times  the  wild  geese  tried  to  stand  on  the  ice-crust;  but 
the  first  time  the  wild  storm  swept  them  into  the  water;  the 
second  time,  the  merciless  seals  came  creeping  up  on  the  ice. 

At  sundown  the  wild  geese  were  once  more  up  in  the  air. 
They  flew  on  —  fearful  of  the  night.  The  darkness  seemed 
to  come  upon  them  much  too  quickly  this  night  —  which 
was  so  full  of  danger. 

It  was  terrible.  As  yet  they  could  see  no  land.  How 
would  it  go  with  them  if  they  were  forced  to  stay  out  on  the 
sea  all  night?  They  would  either  be  crushed  between  ice- 
floes or  devoured  by  seals,  or  else  separated  by  the  storm. 


The  heavens  were  cloud-bedecked,  the  moon  hid  itself, 
and  the  darkness  came  suddenly.  At  the  same  time  all 
nature  was  filled  with  a  horror  which  caused  the  most 
courageous  hearts  to  quail.  Distressed  bird-travellers' 
cries  had  sounded  over  the  sea  all  day  long  without  any  one 
having  paid  the  slightest  attention  to  them;  but  now,  when 
those  who  uttered  them  were  no  longer  seen,  they  seemed 
mournful  and  terrifying.  Down  on  the  sea,  the  ice-drifts 
crashed  against  each  other  with  a  loud  rumbling  noise. 
The  seals  tuned  up  their  wild  hunting  songs.  It  was  as 
though  heaven  and  earth  were  about  to  clash. 


THE  boy  sat  for  a  moment  looking  down  into  the  sea. 
Suddenly  he  thought  it  began  to  roar  louder  than  ever.  He 
glanced  up.  Right  in  front  of  him  —  only  a  couple  of 
metres  away  —  loomed  a  rugged  and  bare  mountain-wall. 
At  its  base  the  waves  dashed  into  a  foam-like  spray.  The 
wild  geese  flew  straight  toward  the  cliff,  and  the  boy  did  not 
see  how  they  could  avoid  being  dashed  to  pieces  against  it. 
No  sooner  had  he  wondered  that  Akka  hadn't  seen  the  dan- 
ger in  time  than  they  were  over  by  the  mountain.  Then 
he  also  noticed  that  before  them  was  the  arched  entrance  to 
a  grotto,  into  which  the  geese  steered.  The  next  moment 
they  were  safe. 

The  first  thing  the  wild  geese  thought  of  —  before  they 
gave  themselves  time  to  rejoice  over  their  safety  —  was 
to  see  if  all  their  comrades  were  also  harboured.  Yes, 
there  were  Akka,  Iksi,  Kolmi,  Nelja,  Viisi,  Kuusi,  all 
the  six  goslings,  the  goosey-gander,  Dunfin  and  Thum- 
bietot;  but  Kaksi  from  Nuolja,  the  first  left-hand  goose, 


was  missing  —  and  none  knew  anything  about  her 

When  the  wild  geese  discovered  that  no  one  but  Kaksi 
had  been  separated  from  the  flock,  they  took  the  matter 
lightly.  Kaksi  was  old  and  wise.  She  knew  all  their  ways 
and  habits,  and  she,  of  course,  would  know  how  to  find  her 
way  back  to  them. 

Now  the  geese  began  to  look  around  in  the  cave.  Enough 
daylight  came  in  through  the  opening  so  that  they  could 
see  the  grotto  was  both  deep  and  wide.  They  were 
congratulating  themselves  on  having  found  such  a  fine 
night  harbour,  when  one  of  the  flock  caught  sight  of 
some  shining,  green  dots,  that  glittered  in  a  dark  corner. 
'Those  are  eyes!"  cried  Akka.  'There  are  big  animals  in 
here."  They  rushed  toward  the  opening,  but  Thumbietot 
called  to  them:  'There  is  nothing  to  run  away  from!  It's 
only  a  few  sheep  lying  alongside  the  grotto  wall." 

When  the  wild  geese  had  accustomed  themselves  to  the 
dim  daylight  in  the  cave,  they  could  see  the  sheep  very  dis- 
tinctly. The  grown-up  sheep  might  be  about  as  many  as 
there  were  geese;  but  beside  these  there  were  a  few  little 
lambs.  An  old  ram,  with  long,  twisted  horns,  appeared  to 
be  the  most  lordly  one  of  the  flock.  The  wild  geese  stepped 
up  to  him  with  much  bowing  and  scraping.  "Well  met  in 
the  wilderness!"  they  greeted,  but  the  big  ram  lay  still, 
and  did  not  speak  a  word  of  welcome. 

Then  the  wild  geese  thought  that  the  sheep  were  dis- 
pleased because  they  had  taken  shelter  in  their  grotto. 
"Our  coming  here  is  not  agreeable  perhaps?"  said  Akka. 
"But  we  cannot  help  it,  for  we  are  wind-driven.  WTe  have 
wandered  about  in  uie  storm  all  day,  and  it  would  be  very 
good  to  be  allowed  to  stop  here  to-night."  After  that 


there  was  a  long  pause  before  any  of  the  sheep  answered 
with  words;  but,  on  the  other  hand,  it  could  be  heard  dis- 
tinctly that  one  or  two  of  them  heaved  deep  sighs.  Akka 
knew,  to  be  sure,  that  sheep  are  always  shy  and  peculiar;  but 
these  seemed  to  have  no  idea  as  to  how  they  should  conduct 
themselves.  Finally  an  old  ewe,  who  had  a  long  and 
pathetic  face  and  a  doleful  voice,  said:  'There  isn't  one 
among  us  that  would  refuse  to  let  you  stay;  but  this  is  a 
house  of  mourning,  and  we  cannot  receive  guests,  as  in 
former  days."  "You  needn't  let  that  worry  you/'  said 
Akka.  "If  you  knew  what  we  have  endured  this  day,  you 
would  surely  understand  that  we  are  satisfied  if  we  only 
get  a  safe  spot  to  sleep  on." 

When  Akka  said  that,  the  old  ewe  raised  herself.  "I  be- 
lieve it  would  be  better  for  you  to  fly  about  in  the  worst 
kind  of  storm  than  to  stop  here.  But,  at  least  you  shall  not 
go  from  here  before  we  have  had  the  privilege  of  offering 
you  the  best  hospitality  which  the  house  affords." 

She  conducted  them  to  a  hollow  in  the  ground,  which  was 
filled  with  water.  Beside  it  lay  a  pile  of  bait  and  husks 
and  chaff;  and  she  bade  them  make  the  most  of  these. 
'This  year  we  have  had  a  severe  snow- winter  on  the 
island,"  said  she.  'The  peasants  who  own  us  came  out  to 
us  with  hay  and  oaten  straw,  so  we  shouldn't  starve  to 
death.  And  this  trash  is  all  there  is  left  of  the  good  cheer." 

The  geese  promptly  made  a  rush  for  the  food.  They 
thought  they  had  fared  well,  and  were  in  their  best  humour. 
They  must  have  observed,  however,  that  the  sheep  were 
anxious ;  but  they  knew  how  easily  scared  sheep  always  are, 
and  didn't  believe  there  was  any  actual  danger  on  foot.  As 
soon  as  they  had  eaten,  they  meant  to  stand  up  to  sleep  as 
usual.  But  presently  the  big  ram  got  up  and  walked  over  to 


them.  The  geese  thought  they  had  never  seen  a  sheep  with 
such  big  and  coarse  horns.  In  other  respects,  also,  he  was 
noticeable.  He  had  a  high,  rolling  forehead,  intelligent 
eyes,  and  a  good  bearing  —  as  if  he  were  a  proud  and  coura- 
geous animal. 

"I  cannot  assume  the  responsibility  of  letting  you  geese 
remain,  without  telling  you  that  it  is  unsafe  here,"  he  said. 
4  We  cannot  receive  night  guests  just  now."  At  last  Akka 
began  to  comprehend  that  this  was  serious.  'We  will  go 
away,  since  you  really  wish  it,"  said  she.  "But  won't  you 
tell  us  first,  what  it  is  that  troubles  you?  We  know  nothing 
about  it.  We  do  not  even  know  where  we  are."  'This 
is  Little  Karl's  Island!"  said  the  ram.  "It  lies  outside  of 
Gottland,  and  only  sheep  and  sea-birds  live  here."  "Per- 
haps you  are  wild  sheep ?':  said  Akka.  'We're  not  far 
removed  from  it,"  replied  the  ram.  'We  have  nothing  to 
do  with  human  beings.  It's  an  old  agreement  between  us 
and  some  peasants  on  a  farm  in  Gottland,  that  they  shall 
supply  us  with  fodder  in  case  we  have  snow-winter;  and  as 
a  recompense  they  are  permitted  to  take  away  those  of  us 
who  become  superfluous.  The  island  is  small,  so  it  cannot 
feed  very  many  of  us.  But  otherwise  we  take  care  of  our- 
selves all  the  year  around,  and  we  do  not  live  in  houses  with 
doors  and  locks,  but  in  grottoes  like  these." 

"Do  you  stay  out  here  in  the  winter  as  well?'1  asked 
Akka,  surprised.  "  We  do,"  answered  the  ram.  '  We  have 
good  fodder  up  here  on  the  mountain  throughout  the  year." 
"It  sounds  as  if  you  were  better  off  than  other  sheep,"  said 
Akka.  "But  what  is  the  misfortune  that  has  befallen  you?  " 
"It  was  bitter  cold  last  winter.  The  sea  froze,  and  then 
three  foxes  came  ^ver  the  ice,  and  here  th^y  have  been 
ever  since.  Otherwise,  there  are  no  dangerous  animals  on 


the  island."  "Oho!  do  foxes  dare  to  attack  such  as  you?' 
"Oh,  no!  not  during  the  day,  when  I  can  protect  myself 
and  mine,"  said  the  ram,  shaking  his  horns.  :<But  they 
sneak  upon  us  at  night  when  we  sleep  in  the  grottoes. 
We  try  to  keep  awake,  but  one  must  sleep  some  of  the  time; 
and  then  they  come  upon  us.  They  have  already  killed 
every  sheep  in  the  other  grottoes,  and  there  were  herds 
that  were  just  as  large  as  mine." 

"It  isn't  pleasant  to  tell  that  we  are  so  helpless,"  said  the 
old  ewe.  "We  cannot  defend  ourselves  any  better  than  if 
we  were  tame  sheep."  "Do  you  think  that  they  will  come 
here  to-night ?':  asked  Akka.  'There  is  nothing  else  in 
store  for  us,"  answered  the  old  ewe.  'They  were  here  last 
night,  and  stole  a  lamb  from  us.  They'll  be  sure  to  come 
back,  as  long  as  there  are  any  of  us  alive.  That  is  what 
they  have  done  in  the  other  places."  ;'But  if  they  are 
allowed  to  keep  this  up,  you'll  become  entirely  extinct," 
said  Akka.  "Oh!  it  won't  be  long  before  it's  all  over  with 
the  sheep  on  Little  Karl's  Island,"  sighed  the  ewe. 

Akka  stood  there  hesitatingly.  It  was  by  no  means  a 
pleasant  prospect  to  venture  out  in  the  storm  again,  nor  was 
it  well  to  remain  in  a  house  where  such  guests  were  expected. 
When  she  had  pondered  a  while,  she  turned  to  Thumbietot. 
"I  wonder  if  you  will  help  us,  as  you  have  done  so  many 
times  before,"  said  she.  Yes,  that  he  would  love  to  do,  he 
replied.  "It  is  a  pity  for  you  not  to  get  any  sleep!"  said 
the  wild  goose,  "but  I  wonder  if  you  are  able  to  keep  awake 
until  the  foxes  come,  and  then  to  awaken  us,  so  we  may  fly 
away."  The  boy  was  not  very  glad  of  this;  but  anything 
was  better  than  going  out  in  the  storm  again  —  so  he 
promised  to  keep  awake. 

He  went  over  to  the  grotto  opening,  crawled  in  behind  a 


stone  that  he  might  be  sheltered  from  the  storm,  and  sat 
down  to  watch. 

When  the  boy  had  been  sitting  there  a  while,  the  storm 
abated,  the  sky  grew  clear  and  the  moonlight  began  to 
play  on  the  waves.  The  boy  stepped  to  the  opening  to 
look  out.  The  grotto  was  rather  high  up  on  the  mountain. 
A  narrow  and  steep  path  led  to  it.  It  was  probably  here 
that  he  must  await  the  foxes. 

As  yet  he  saw  no  foxes;  but,  on  the  other  hand,  there  was 
something  which,  for  the  moment,  terrified  him  much  more. 
On  the  land-strip  below  the  mountain  stood  some  giants, 
or  other  stone-trolls  • —  or  perhaps  they  were  actual  human 
beings.  He  thought  at  first  that  he  was  dreaming,  but  now 
he  was  positive  that  he  had  not  fallen  asleep.  He  saw  the 
big  men  so  distinctly  that  it  could  be  no  illusion.  Some 
stood  on  the  land-strip,  others  right  on  the  mountain- wall 
as  if  about  to  climb  it.  Some  had  big,  thick  heads;  others 
had  no  heads  at  all.  Some  were  one-armed,  and  some  had 
humps  both  before  and  behind.  He  had  never  seen  any- 
thing so  extraordinary. 

The  boy  stood  there  and  worked  himself  into  a  state 
of  panic  because  of  those  trolls,  and  he  almost  forgot  to 
keep  his  eye  peeled  for  the  foxes.  But  now  he  heard 
the  scraping  of  claws  and  saw  three  foxes  coming  up  the 
steep.  As  soon  as  he  knew  that  he  had  something  real 
to  deal  with,  he  was  calm  again,  and  not  the  least  bit 
scared.  It  occurred  to  him  that  it  would  be  a  pity  to 
awaken  only  the  geese,  and  leave  the  sheep  to  their  fate. 
He  thought  he  would  like  to  arrange  things  some  other 

He  ran  quickly  ^  the  other  end  of  the  grotto,  shook  the 
big  ram's  horns  until  he  awoke,  and  at  the  same  time  swung 


himself  upon  his  back.  ''Get  up,  daddy,  and  we'll  try  to 
frighten  the  foxes  a  bit!"  said  the  boy. 

He  had  tried  to  be  as  quiet  as  possible,  but  the  foxes  must 
have  heard  some  noise ;  for  when  they  came  up  to  the  mouth 
of  the  grotto  they  stopped  and  deliberated.  "It  was  cer- 
tainly some  one  in  there  that  moved,"  said  one.  "I  wonder 
if  they  are  awake."  "Just  you  go  ahead!"  said  another. 
"At  all  events,  they  can't  do  anything  to  us." 

When  they  came  farther  into  the  grotto,  they  stopped  and 
sniffed.  '  Whom  shall  we  take  to-night  ?  "  whispered  the  one 
in  the  lead.  'To-night  we  will  take  the  big  ram,"  said  the 
last.  "After  that,  we'll  have  easy  work  with  the  rest." 

The  boy  sat  on  the  old  ram's  back  and  saw  how  they 
sneaked  along.  "Now  butt  straight  ahead!"  whispered  the 
boy.  The  ram  butted,  and  the  first  fox  was  thrust  —  top 
over  tail  —  back  to  the  opening.  "Now  butt  to  the  left!" 
said  the  boy,  turning  the  big  ram's  head  in  that  direction. 
The  ram  measured  a  terrific  assault  that  caught  the  second 
fox  in  the  side.  He  rolled  over  several  times  before  he 
got  to  his  feet  again  and  made  his  escape.  The  boy  had 
wished  that  the  third  one,  too,  might  have  got  a  bump, 
but  this  one  had  already  skedaddled. 

"Now  I  think  that  they've  had  enough  for  to-night,"  said 
the  boy.  "So  do  I,"  agreed  the  big  ram.  :<Now  lie 
down  on  my  back,  and  creep  into  the  wool!  You  deserve 
to  have  it  warm  and  comfortable,  after  all  the  wind  and 
storm  that  you  have  been  out  in." 


THE  next  day  the  big  ram  went  around  with  the  boy  on  his 
back,  and  showed  him  the  island.     It  consisted  of  a  single 


massive  mountain.  It  was  like  a  large  house  with  perpen- 
dicular walls  and  a  flat  roof.  First  the  ram  walked  up  on 
the  mountain  roof  and  showed  the  boy  the  good  grazing 
lands  there;  and  he  had  to  admit  that  the  island  seemed  to 
be  especially  created  for  sheep.  There  wasn't  much  else 
than  sheep-sorrel  and  such  little  spicy  growths  as  sheep 
are  fond  of  that  grew  on  the  mountain. 

But  indeed  there  was  something  beside  sheep-fodder  to 
look  at,  for  one  who  was  well  up  on  the  cliff.  To  begin  with, 
the  large  expanse  of  sea  —  which  now  lay  blue  and  sunlit, 
and  rolled  forward  in  glittering  swells  —  was  visible.  Only 
upon  one  and  another  point  did  the  foam  spray  up.  To 
the  east  lay  Gottland,  with  its  even  and  long-stretched  coast; 
and  to  the  southwest  lay  Great  Karl's  Island,  which  was 
built  on  the  same  plan  as  the  little  island.  When  the  ram 
walked  to  the  very  edge  of  the  mountain  roof,  so  the  boy 
could  look  down  the  mountain  walls,  he  noticed  that  they 
were  simply  filled  with  birds'  nests;  and  in  the  blue  sea  be- 
neath lay  surf-scoters  and  eider-ducks  and  kittiwakes 
and  guillemots  and  razor-bills  —  so  pretty  and  peaceful  — 
busying  themselves  with  fishing  for  small  herring. 

'This  is  really  a  favoured  land,"  said  the  boy.  'You 
live  in  a  pretty  place,  you  sheep."  "Oh,  yes!  it's  pretty 
enough  here,"  said  the  big  ram.  It  was  as  if  he  wished  to 
add  something;  but  he  didn't,  he  only  sighed.  "If  you  go 
about  here  alone  you  must  watch  out  for  the  crevices  which 
run  all  around  the  mountain,"  he  cautioned  after  a  pause. 
And  this  was  a  good  warning,  for  there  were  deep  and  broad 
crevices  in  several  places.  The  largest  of  them  was  called 
Hell's  Hole.  That  crevice  was  many  fathoms  deep  and 
nearly  six  feet  wide.  "If  one  were  to  fall  down  there,  it 
would  certainly  be  the  last  of  him,"  said  the  big  rani.  The 


boy  thought  it  sounded  as  if  he  had  a  special  meaning  in 
what  he  said. 

Then  he  conducted  the  boy  down  to  the  narrow  strip 
of  shore.  Now  he  could  see  those  giants  that  had  fright- 
ened him  the  night  before,  at  close  range.  They  were 
nothing  but  tall  rock-pillars.  The  big  ram  called  them 
"boulders."  The  boy  couldn't  see  enough  of  them.  He 
thought  that  if  there  had  ever  been  any  trolls  who  had 
turned  into  stone  they  ought  to  look  just  like  that. 

Although  it  was  pretty  down  on  the  shore,  the  boy  liked 
it  even  better  on  the  mountain  height.  It  was  ghastly 
down  here;  for  everywhere  they  came  across  dead  sheep.  It 
was  here  that  the  foxes  held  their  orgies.  He  saw  skele- 
tons whose  flesh  had  been  eaten,  and  bodies  that  were  half- 
eaten,  and  others  that  they  had  scarcely  tasted.  It  was 
heart-rending  to  see  how  the  wild  beasts  had  thrown  them- 
selves upon  the  sheep  just  for  sport  —  only  to  hunt  them 
and  tear  them  to  death. 

The  big  ram  did  not  pause  in  front  of  the  dead,  but 
walked  by  them  in  silence.  But  the  boy,  meanwhile,  could 
not  help  seeing  all  the  horror. 

Then  the  big  ram  started  up  the  mountain  again.  When 
he  was  there  he  stopped  and  said:  "If  some  one  who 
is  capable  and  wise  could  see  all  the  misery  which  prevails 
here  he  surely  would  not  be  able  to  rest  until  these  foxes  had 
been  punished."  'The  foxes  must  live,  too,"  said  the  boy. 
'Yes,"  admitted  the  big  ram,  "those  who  do  not  tear  in 
pieces  more  animals  than  they  need  for  their  sustenance, 
they  may  as  well  live.  But  these  are  felons."  'The  peas- 
ants who  own  the  island  ought  to  come  here  and  help  you," 
declared  the  boy.  'They  have  rowred  over  a  number  of 
times,"  replied  the  ram,  "but  the  foxes  always  hid  them- 


selves  in  the  grottoes  and  crevices,  so  they  could  not 
shoot  at  them."  'You  surely  cannot  mean,  daddy,  that 
a  poor  little  creature  like  me  should  be  able  to  get  at 
them,  when  neither  you  nor  the  peasants  have  succeeded 
in  getting  the  better  of  them."  "One  that  is  little 
and  spry,  can  put  many  things  to  rights,"  said  the  big 

They  talked  no  more  about  this,  and  the  boy  went  over 
and  sat  down  among  the  wild  geese,  who  were  feeding  on  the 
highland.  Although  he  had  not  cared  to  show  his  feelings 
before  the  ram,  he  was  very  sad  on  the  sheep's  account,  and 
he  would  have  been  glad  to  help  them.  "I  can  at  least 
talk  with  Akka  and  Morten  Goosey-gander  about  the 
matter,"  thought  he.  "Perhaps  they  can  help  me  with  a 
good  suggestion." 

A  little  later  the  white  goosey-gander  took  the  boy  on  his 
back  and  crossed  the  mountain  plain,  in  the  direction  of 
Hell's  Hole  at  that! 

He  wandered,  carefree,  on  the  broad  mountain  roof  — 
apparently  unconscious  of  how  large  and  white  he  was.  He 
didn't  seek  protection  behind  tufts,  or  any  other  protuber- 
ances, but  went  straight  ahead.  It  was  singular  that  he 
was  not  more  careful,  for  it  was  obvious  that  he  had  fared 
badly  in  yesterday's  storm.  He  limped  on  his  right  leg, 
and  his  left  wing  hung  and  dragged  as  if  it  were  broken. 

He  acted  as  if  there  were  no  danger,  pecked  at  a  grass- 
blade  here  and  another  there,  and  did  not  look  about  him  in 
any  direction.  The  boy  lay  stretched  out  full  length  on  the 
goose-back,  and  looked  up  toward  the  blue  sky.  He  was 
so  accustomed  to  riding  now  that  he  could  both  stand  up 
and  lie  down  on  tne  goose-back. 

While  the  goosey-gander  and  the  boy  were  so  carefree, 


they  did  not  observe,  of  course,  that  the  three  foxes  had 
come  up  on  the  mountain  plain. 

And  the  foxes,  who  knew  that  it  was  well-nigh  impossible 
to  take  the  life  of  a  goose  on  an  open  plain,  thought  at  first 
that  they  wouldn't  chase  after  the  goosey-gander.  But 
since  they  had  nothing  else  to  do,  they  finally  sneaked  down 
into  one  of  the  long  cracks,  and  tried  to  steal  up  to  him. 
They  went  about  it  so  cautiously  that  the  goosey-gander 
couldn't  see  a  shadow  of  them. 

They  were  not  far  off  when  the  goosey-gander  made  an 
attempt  to  raise  himself  into  the  air.  He  spread  his  wings, 
but  he  did  not  manage  to  lift  himself.  When  the  foxes 
seemed  to  grasp  the  fact  that  he  couldn't  fly,  they  hurried 
forward  with  greater  eagerness  than  before.  They  no  longer 
concealed  themselves  in  the  cleft,  but  came  out  on  the  high- 
land. They  hurried  as  fast  as  they  could,  behind  tufts 
and  hollows,  coming  nearer  and  nearer  to  the  goosey-gander 
—  without  his  seeming  to  notice  that  he  was  being  hunted. 
At  last  the  foxes  were  so  near  that  they  could  make  the  final 
leap.  Simultaneously,  all  three  threw  themselves  with  one 
long  jump  at  the  goosey-gander. 

But  yet  at  the  last  moment  he  must  have  noticed  something, 
for  he  ran  out  of  the  way,  and  the  foxes  missed  him.  This, 
at  any  rate,  didn't  mean  very  much,  for  the  goosey-gander 
only  had  a  couple  of  metres  headway,  and,  in  the  bargain, 
he  limped.  Anyhow,  the  poor  thing  ran  ahead  as  fast  as 
he  could. 

The  boy  sat  upon  the  goose-back  —  backward  —  and 
shrieked  and  called  to  the  foxes.  "You  have  eaten  your- 
selves too  fat  on  mutton,  foxes.  You  can't  catch  up  with  a 
goose  even."  He  teased  them  so  that  they  became  crazed 
with  rage  and  thought  only  of  rushing  forward. 


The  white  one  ran  right  straight  to  the  big  cleft.  When 
he  was  there,  he  made  one  stroke  with  his  wings  and  was 
over.  Just  then  the  foxes  were  almost  upon  him. 

The  goosey-gander  hurried  on  wTith  the  same  haste  ah 
before,  even  after  he  had  got  across  Hell's  Hole.  But  he 
had  hardly  run  two  metres  when  the  boy  patted  him  on  the 
neck,  and  said:  "Now  you  can  stop,  goosey -gander." 

At  that  instant  they  heard  wild  howls  behind 
them,  and  a  scraping  of  claws,  and  heavy  falls.  But 
of  the  foxes  they  saw  nothing  more. 

The  next  morning  the  keeper  of  the  lighthouse  on  Great 
Karl's  Island  found  a  bit  of  bark  poked  under  the  en- 
trance-door, and  on  it  was  carved  in  slanting,  angular 
letters:  'The  foxes  on  the  little  island  have  fallen  down 
into  Hell's  Hole.  Take  care  of  them!" 

And  this  the  keeper  of  the  lighthouse  did,  too. 



Saturday,  April  ninth. 

IT  WAS  a  calm  and  clear  night.  The  wild  geese  did  not 
bother  to  seek  shelter  in  any  of  the  grottoes,  but  stood 
and  slept  on  the  mountain  top;  and  the  boy  had  lain  down 
in  the  short,  dry  grass  beside  the  geese. 

It  was  bright  moonlight  that  night;  so  bright  that  it  was 
difficult  for  the  boy  to  go  to  sleep.  He  lay  there  wondering 
how  long  he  had  been  away  from  home  and  figured 
out  that  it  was  three  weeks  since  he  had  started  on  the  trip. 
At  the  same  tune  he  remembered  that  this  was  Easter-eve. 

"It  is  to-night  that  all  the  witches  come  home  from 
Blakulla,"  thought  he,  laughing  to  himself.  For  he  was 
just  a  little  afraid  of  both  the  water-sprite  and  the  elf,  but 
he  didn't  believe  the  least  little  bit  in  witches. 

If  there  had  been  any  witches  out  that  night,  he  should 
have  seen  them,  to  be  sure.  It  was  so  light  in  the  heavens 
that  not  the  tiniest  black  speck  could  move  in  the  air  with- 
out his  seeing  it. 

As  the  boy  lay  there  with  his  nose  in  the  air  thinking 
about  this,  he  caught  sight  of  something  lovely !  The  moon's 
disc  was  whole  and  round,  and  rather  high,  and  over  it  a 
big  bird  came  flying.  It  did  not  fly  past  the  moon,  but 
moved  as  if  it  might  have  flown  out  from  it.  The  bird 



looked  black  against  the  light  background,  and  the  wings 
extended  from  one  rim  of  the  disc  to  the  other.  It  flew 
on  evenly,  in  the  same  direction,  and  the  boy  thought  that 
it  was  painted  on  the  moon.  The  body  was  small,  the 
neck  long  and  slender,  the  legs  hung  down,  long  and  thin. 
It  couldn't  be  anything  but  a  stork. 

A  couple  of  seconds  later  Herr  Ermenrich,  the  stork,  lit 
beside  the  boy.  He  bent  down  and  poked  him  with  his 
bill,  to  awaken  him. 

Instantly  the  boy  sat  up.  "I'm  not  asleep,  Herr 
Ermenrich,"  he  said.  :'How  does  it  happen  that  you  are 
out  in  the  middle  of  the  night,  and  how  is  everything  at 
Glimminge  Castle?  Do  you  want  to  speak  with  Mother 

:'It's  too  light  to  sleep  to-night,"  answered  Herr  Ermen- 
rich. 'Therefore  I  decided  to  fly  over  here  to  Karl's 
Island  to  hunt  you  up,  friend  Thumbietot.  I  learned 
from  the  seamew  that  you  were  spending  the  night  here. 
I  have  not  as  yet  moved  over  to  Glimminge  Castle,  but  am 
still  living  at  Pommern." 

The  boy  was  simply  overjoyed  to  think  that  Herr  Ermen- 
rich had  sought  him  out.  They  chatted  about  all  sorts  of 
things,  like  old  friends.  At  last  the  stork  asked  the  boy  if 
he  wouldn't  like  to  go  out  riding  for  a  while  on  this  beautiful 

Oh,  yes!  that  the  boy  wanted  to  do,  if  the  stork  would 
manage  to  get  him  back  to  the  wild  geese  before  sunrise. 
This  he  promised,  so  off  they  went. 

Again  Herr  Ermenrich  flew  straight  toward  the  moon. 
They  rose  and  rose;  the  sea  sank  deep  down,  but  the  flight 
went  so  light  and  easy  that  to  the  boy  it  seemed  almost  as 
if  he  were  lying  still  in  the  air. 


When  Herr  Ermenrich  began  to  descend,  the  boy  thought 
that  the  flight  had  lasted  an  unreasonably  short  time. 

They  landed  on  a  desolate  bit  of  seashore  that  was 
covered  with  fine,  even  sand.  All  along  the  coast  ran  a  row 
of  sand-dunes  with  lyme-grass  on  their  tops.  They  were  not 
very  high,  but  they  prevented  the  boy  from  seeing  any  of 
the  island. 

Herr  Ermenrich  stood  on  a  dune,  drew  up  one  leg,  and 
bent  his  head  backward,  so  he  could  stick  his  bill  under  his 
wing.  'You  can  roam  around  on  the  shore  for  a  while," 
he  said  to  Thumbietot,  "  while  I  rest  myself.  But  don't  go 
so  far  away  that  you  can't  find  your  way  back  to  me!" 

To  start  with,  the  boy  intended  to  climb  a  sand-dune  to 
see  how  the  land  behind  it  looked.  But  when  he  had 
gone  a  couple  of  paces,  he  stubbed  the  toe  of  his  wooden 
shoe  against  something  hard.  He  stooped  down,  and  saw 
a  small  copper  coin  lying  on  the  sand.  The  coin  was  so 
worn  with  verdigris  that  it  was  almost  transparent;  and  so 
poor  that  he  didn't  even  bother  to  pick  it  up,  but  only 
kicked  it  out  of  the  way. 

When  he  straightened  up  he  was  perfectly  astounded,  for 
two  paces  away  from  him  stood  a  high,  dark  wall  with  a 
big,  turreted  gate. 

The  moment  before  the  boy  had  bent  down,  the  sea  lay 
there  —  shimmering  and  smooth,  while  now  it  was  hidden 
by  a  long  wall  with  towers  and  battlements.  Directly  in 
front  of  him,  where  before  there  had  been  only  a  few  sea- 
weed banks,  the  big  gate  of  the  wall  opened. 

The  boy  probably  understood  that  it  was  a  spectre-play 
of  some  sort;  so  this  was  nothing  to  be  afraid  of,  thought  he. 
It  wasn't  any  dangerous  witch  or  troll,  or  any  other  evil  — 
such  as  he  always  dreaded  to  encounter  at  night.  Both 


the  wall  and  the  gate  were  so  beautifully  constructed  thai 
his  only  desire  was  to  see  what  there  might  be  back  of  them. 
"I  must  find  out  what  this  is,"  he  thought,  and  went  in 
through  the  gate. 

In  the  deep  archway  were  guards,  dressed  in  brocaded 
and  puffed  suits,  their  long-handled  spears  beside  them  — 
who  sat  and  threw  dice.  They  thought  only  of  the  game, 
and  took  no  notice  of  the  boy  who  hurried  past  them. 

Just  within  the  gate  he  found  an  open  space,  paved  with 
large,  even  stones.  Round  about  were  rows  of  high  and  mag- 
nificent buildings,  between  which  opened  long,  narrow 
streets.  On  the  square  —  facing  the  gate  —  it  fairly 
swarmed  with  human  beings.  The  men  wore  long,  fur- 
trimmed  capes  over  satin  suits;  plume-bedecked  hats  sat 
obliquely  on  their  heads;  on  their  chests  hung  superb 
chains.  They  were  all  so  regally  attired  that  the  whole  lot 
of  them  might  have  been  kings. 

The  women  went  about  in  high  headdresses  and  long 
robes  with  tight-fitting  sleeves.  They,  too,  were  beauti- 
fully dressed,  but  their  splendour  was  not  to  be  compared 
with  that  of  the  men. 

This  was  exactly  like  the  old  story-book,  which  mother 
took  from  the  chest  —  only  once  —  and  showed  to  him. 
The  boy  simply  couldn't  believe  his  eyes. 

But  that  which  was  even  more  wonderful  to  look  at 
than  the  men  or  the  women,  was  the  city  itself.  Every 
house  was  built  with  a  gable  that  faced  the  street.  And 
the  gables  were  so  highly  ornamented  that  one  would 
think  they  were  trying  to  compete  with  each  other  as  to 
which  could  sho,/  the  most  beautiful  decorations. 

When  suddenly  seeing  so  much  that  is  new,  one  cannot 
manage  to  treasure  it  all  in  one's  memory.  But  at  least  the 


boy  could  recall  having  seen  stairway  gables  on  the 
various  landings  which  bore  images  of  the  Christ  and  his 
Apostles;  gables  where  there  were  images  in  niche  after 
niche  all  along  the  wall;  gables  that  were  inlaid  with  multi- 
coloured bits  of  glass,  and  gables  that  were  striped  and 
checked  in  white  and  black  marble.  As  the  boy  was  admir- 
ing all  this,  a  sudden  sense  of  haste  came  over  him.  "Any- 
thing like  this  my  eyes  have  never  seen  before.  Anything 
like  this  they  would  never  see  again,"  he  said  to  himself. 
And  he  ran  into  the  city  —  up  one  street,  and  down  an- 

The  streets  were  straight  and  narrow,  but  not  empty 
and  gloomy,  as  they  were  in  the  cities  with  which  he  was 
familiar.  There  were  people  everywhere.  Old  women 
sat  by  their  open  doors  and  spun  without  a  spinning-wheel 
—  only  with  the  help  of  a  shuttle.  The  merchants'  shops 
were  like  market-stalls  —  opening  onto  the  street.  All  the 
handicraftsmen  did  their  work  out  of  doors.  In  one  place 
they  were  boiling  crude  oil;  in  another  tanning  hides;  in  a 
third  there  was  a  long  rope-walk. 

If  only  the  boy  had  had  time  enough  he  could  have 
learned  how  to  make  all  sorts  of  things.  Here  he  saw  how 
armourers  hammered  out  thin  breast-plates;  how  jewellers 
set  precious  stones  in  rings  and  bracelets;  how  turners 
tended  their  irons ;  how  the  shoemakers  soled  soft,  red  shoes ; 
how  the  gold-wire  drawers  twisted  gold  thread,  and  how  the 
weavers  inserted  silver  and  gold  into  their  cloth. 

But  the  boy  did  not  have  time  to  stay.  He  only  rushed 
on,  that  he  might  see  as  much  as  possible  before  all  would 
vanish  again. 

The  high  wall  ran  clear  round  the  city  and  fenced  it  in,  as 
a  hedge  shuts  in  a  field.  He  saw  it  at  the  end  of  every 


street  —  gable  ornamented  and  crenulated.  On  top  of  the 
wall  walked  warriors  in  shining  armour;  and  when  he  had 
run  from  one  end  of  the  city  to  the  other,  he  came  to  still  an- 
other gate  hi  the  wall.  Beyond  this  wall  lay  the  sea  and  har- 
bour. The  boy  saw  olden-time  ships,  with  rowing-benches 
straight  across,  and  high  structures  fore  and  aft.  Some 
lay  and  took  on  cargo,  others  were  just  casting  anchor. 
Carriers  and  merchants  hurried  past  each  other.  All  over 
there  was  life  and  bustle. 

But  not  even  here  did  he  have  the  time  to  linger. 
He  rushed  into  the  city  again;  and  now  he  came  up  to  the 
big  square.  There  stood  the  cathedral  with  its  three  high 
towers  and  deep  vaulted  arches  filled  with  images.  Its 
walls  had  been  so  richly  decorated  by  sculptors  that  there 
was  not  a  stone  without  its  own  special  ornamentation. 
And  what  a  magnificent  display  of  gilded  crosses,  and  gold- 
trimmed  altars,  and  priests  in  golden  vestments  shimmered 
through  the  open  gate!  Directly  opposite  the  church  there 
was  a  house  with  a  notched  roof  and  a  single,  slender,  sky- 
high  tower.  That  was  probably  the  courthouse.  And 
between  the  courthouse  and  the  cathedral,  all  around 
the  square,  stood  the  beautiful  gabled  houses,  with  their 
multiplicity  of  adornments. 

The  boy  had  run  himself  both  warm  and  tired.  He 
thought  that  now  he  had  seen  the  most  remarkable  things, 
and  therefore  he  began  to  walk  more  leisurely.  The  street 
into  which  he  now  turned  was  surely  the  one  where 
the  inhabitants  purchased  their  fine  clothing.  He  saw 
crowds  of  peopTe  standing  before  the  little  stalls  where  the 
merchants  spread  brocades,  stiff  satins,  heavy  gold  cloth, 
shimmery  velvet,  delicate  veiling,  and  laces  as  sheer  as  a 
spider's  web. 


Before,  when  the  boy  ran  so  fast,  no  one  paid  any 
attention  to  him.  The  people  must  have  thought  it  was 
only  a  little  gray  rat  that  darted  by  them.  But  now,  as 
he  walked  down  the  street,  very  leisurely,  one  of  the  salesmen 
caught  sight  of  him,  and  began  to  beckon  to  him. 

At  first  the  boy  was  uneasy  and  wanted  to  hurry  out  of 
the  way,  but  the  salesman  only  beckoned  and  smiled,  and 
spread  out  on  the  counter  a  lovely  piece  of  satin  damask,  as 
if  to  tempt  him. 

The  boy  shook  his  head.  "I  will  never  be  so  rich  that  I 
can  buy  even  a  yard  of  that  cloth,"  thought  he. 

But  now  they  had  caught  sight  of  him  in  every  stall,  all 
along  the  street.  Wherever  he  looked  stood  a  salesman 
beckoning  to  him.  They  left  their  costly  wares,  and 
thought  only  of  him.  He  saw  how  they  hurried  into  the 
most  hidden  corner  of  the  stall  to  fetch  the  best  they 
had  to  sell,  and  how  their  hands  trembled  with  eagerness 
and  haste  as  they  laid  it  upon  the  counter. 

When  the  boy  kept  on  going,  one  of  the  merchants 
jumped  over  the  counter,  caught  hold  of  him,  and  spread 
before  him  silver  cloth  and  woven  tapestries,  which  shone 
in  brilliant  colours. 

The  boy  could  only  laugh  at  him.  The  salesman  must 
surely  understand  that  a  poor  little  creature  like  him  couldn't 
buy  such  things.  He  stood  still  and  held  out  his  two  empty 
hands  so  they  would  understand  that  he  had  nothing,  and 
let  him  go  in  peace. 

But  the  merchant  raised  a  finger  and  nodded  and  pushed 
the  whole  pile  of  beautiful  things  over  to  him. 

"Can  he  mean  that  he  will  sell  all  this  for  a  gold  piece?" 
wondered  the  boy. 

The  merchant  brought  out  a  tiny  worn  and  poor  coin — 


the  smallest  there  was  —  and  showed  it  to  him.  And  he 
was  so  eager  to  sell  that  he  increased  his  pile  with  a  pair  of 
large,  heavy,  silver  goblets. 

Then  the  boy  began  to  dig  down  in  his  pockets.  He  knew, 
of  course,  that  he  didn't  possess  a  single  coin,  but  he  couldn't 
help  feeling  for  it. 

All  the  other  merchants  stood  by  to  see  how  the 
sale  would  come  off,  and  when  they  observed  that  the  boy 
began  to  search  in  his  pockets,  they  flung  themselves  over 
the  counters,  took  up  handfuls  of  gold  and  silver  orna- 
ments, and  offered  them  to  him.  And  they  all  showed  him 
that  what  they  asked  in  payment  was  just  one  little  penny, 

The  boy  turned  both  vest  and  breeches  pockets  inside 
out,  so  they  should  see  that  he  owned  nothing.  Then  tears 
filled  the  eyes  of  all  these  regal  merchants,  who  were  so 
much  richer  than  he.  At  last  he  was  moved  because  they 
looked  so  distressed  and  pondered  if  he  could  not  in  some 
way  help  them.  And  then  he  happened  to  think  of  the 
rusty  coin,  which  he  had  but  lately  seen  on  the  strand. 

He  started  to  run  down  the  street,  and  luck  was  with 
him,  so  that  he  came  to  the  self-same  gate  that  he  had 
happened  upon  first.  He  dashed  through  it,  and  com- 
menced to  search  for  the  little  green  copper  penny  that  lay 
on  the  strand  a  while  ago. 

He  found  it,  too,  very  promptly ;  but  when  he  had  picked 
it  up,  and  wanted  to  run  back  to  the  city  with  it  —  he  saw 
only  the  sea  before  him.  No  city  wall,  no  gate,  no  sentinels, 
no  streets,  no  houses  were  now  visible  —  only  the  sea. 

The  boy  couldn't  help  that  the  tears  came  to  his  eyes. 
He  had  believed,  in  the  beginning,  that  that  which  he 
had  seen  was  only  an  illusion;  but  this  he  had  already 
forgotten.  He  only  thought  how  beautiful  it  all  was. 


He  felt  a  genuine,  deep  sorrow  because  the  city  had  van- 

That  moment  Herr  Ermenrich  awoke,  and  came  up  to 
him.  But  he  didn't  hear  him,  and  the  stork  had  to  poke  the 
boy  with  his  bill  to  attract  attention  to  himself.  "I  be- 
lieve that  you  stand  here  and  sleep  the  way  I  do,"  said 
Herr  Ermenrich. 

" Oh,  Herr  Ermenrich ! "  the  boy  exclaimed.  "What  was 
that  city  which  stood  here  just  now?" 

"Have  you  seen  a  city?"  questioned  the  stork.  'You 
have  slept  and  dreamt  I  say." 

"No!  I  have  not  dreamt,"  said  Thumbietot,  and  he 
told  the  stork  all  that  he  had  experienced. 

Then  Herr  Ermenrich  said:  "For  my  part,  Thumbietot, 
I  believe  that  you  fell  asleep  here  on  the  strand  and  dreamed 
all  this.  But  I  will  not  conceal  from  you  that  Bataki, 
the  raven,  who  is  the  most  learned  of  all  birds,  once  told 
me  that  in  former  times  there  was  a  city  on  this  shore,  called 
Vineta.  It  was  so  rich  and  so  fortunate  that  no  city  has 
ever  been  more  glorious;  but  its  inhabitants,  unluckily, 
gave  themselves  up  to  arrogance  and  love  of  display.  As  a 
punishment,  says  Bataki,  the  city  of  Vineta  was  overtaken 
by  a  flood,  and  sank  into  the  sea.  But  these  inhabitants 
cannot  die,  nor  is  their  city  destroyed.  And  one  night 
in  every  hundred  years,  it  rises  in  all  its  splendour  up 
from  the  sea,  and  remains  on  the  surface  just  one  hour." 
"Yes;  it  must  be  so,"  said  Thumbietot,  "for  this  I  have 


"But  when  the  hour  is  up,  it  sinks  again  into  the  sea,  if, 
during  that  time,  no  merchant  in  Vineta  has  sold  anything 
to  a  single  living  creature.  If  you,  Thumbietot,  had  only 
had  ever  so  tiny  a  coin  to  pay  the  merchants,  Vineta  might 


have  remained  up  here  on  the  shore;  and  its  people  could 
have  lived  and  died  like  other  human  beings." 

"Herr  Ermenrich,"  said  the  boy,  "now  I  understand  why 
you  came  and  fetched  me  in  the  middle  of  the  night.  It  was 
because  you  believed  that  I  should  be  able  to  save  the  old 
city.  I  am  so  sorry  it  didn't  turn  out  as  you  wished,  Herr 

He  covered  his  face  with  his  hands  and  wept.  It  was 
hard  to  tell  which  looked  the  more  disconsolate  —  the  boy 
or  Herr  Ermenrich. 


Monday,  April  eleventh. 

On  Easter  Monday,  the  wild  geese  and  Thumbietot  were 
on  the  wing.  They  travelled  over  Gottland. 

The  large  island  lay  smooth  and  even  below  them. 
The  ground  was  checked  just  as  in  Skane,  and  there  were 
many  churches  and  farms. 

The  wild  geese  had  taken  the  route  over  Gottland  on 
account  of  Thumbietot.  He  had  not  been  himself  for  two 
days,  and  had  not  spoken  a  cheerful  word.  This  was  be- 
cause  he  had  thought  of  nothing  but  that  city  which  had 
appeared  to  him  in  such  a  strange  way.  He  had  never  seen 
anything  so  beautiful  and  he  could  not  be  reconciled  with 
himself  for  having  failed  to  save  it.  He  was  not  usually 
soft-hearted,  but  now  he  actually  mourned  for  the  beautiful 
buildings  and  the  stately  people. 

Both  Akka  and  the  goosey-gander  had  tried  to  convince 
Thumbietot  that  he  was  the  victim  of  a  dream  or  an  illu- 
sion, but  the  boy  wouldn't  listen  to  anything  of  the  sort. 
He  was  so  positive  that  he  had  really  seen  what  he  had  seen 


that  no  one  could  move  him  in  his  conviction.  He  went 
about  so  disconsolate  that  his  travelling  companions  became 
uneasy  for  him. 

Just  as  the  boy  was  most  depressed,  old  Kaksi  came  back 
to  the  flock.  She  had  been  blown  toward  Gottland,  and 
compelled  to  travel  over  the  whole  island  before  she  learned 
from  some  crows  that  her  comrades  were  on  Little  Karl's 
Island.  When  Kaksi  found  out  what  was  wrong  with 
Thumbietot,  she  said  impulsivly: 

"If  Thumbietot  is  grieving  over  an  old  city,  we'll  soon  be 
able  to  comfort  him.  Come  along,  and  I'll  take  you  to  a 
place  that  I  saw  yesterday!  He'll  get  over  his  distress 
before  long." 

The  geese  were  soon  on  their  way  to  the  place  which  Kaksi 
wished  to  show  Thumbietot.  Blue  as  he  was,  he  couldn't 
keep  from  looking  down  at  the  land  over  which  he  travelled, 
as  usual. 

He  thought  it  looked  as  if  the  whole  island  had  in  the 
beginning  been  just  such  a  high,  steep  cliff  as  Karl's  Island 
—  though  much  bigger  of  course.  But  afterward,  it  had 
in  some  way  been  flattened  out.  Some  one  must  have 
rolled  a  big  rolling-pin  over  it,  as  if  it  had  been  a  lump  of 
dough.  Not  that  the  island  had  become  altogether  flat 
and  even,  like  a  bread-cake,  for  it  wasn't  like  that.  While 
travelling  alongside  the  coast,  he  had  seen,  here  and  there, 
white  lime  walls  with  grottoes  and  crags  but  in  most  places 
the  ground  was  level,  and  the  shores  sank  modestly  down 
toward  the  sea. 

In  Gottland  they  had  a  pleasant  and  peaceful  holiday 
afternoon.  It  turned  out  to  be  mild  spring  weather;  the 
trees  had  big  buds;  spring  blossoms  dressed  the  ground  in 
the  leafy  meadows;  the  poplars'  long,  thin  pendants  swayed; 


and  in  the  little  gardens,  which  are  to  be  found  around  every 
cottage,  the  gooseberry  bushes  were  green. 

The  warmth  and  the  budding  of  spring  had  tempted  the 
people  out  into  gardens  and  roads,  and  wherever  a  number 
of  them  had  come  together,  they  played  games.  Not 
only  the  children  played  but  the  grown-ups  also.  They 
threw  stones  at  a  given  point,  and  they  sent  balls  so  high 
into  the  air  that  they  almost  touched  the  wild  geese.  It 
looked  cheerful  and  pleasant  to  see  big  folks  at  play;  and 
the  boy  certainly  would  have  enjoyed  it  had  he  only  been 
able  to  forget  his  grief  and  disappointment  because  of  his 
failure  to  save  the  ancient  city. 

But  anyhow,  he  had  to  admit  that  this  was  a  lovely  trip. 
The  air  was  so  full  of  joy  and  melody.  Little  children 
played  ring  games,  and  sang  as  they  played.  The  Salva- 
tion Army  was  out.  He  saw  a  lot  of  people  dressed  in  black 
and  red  sitting  upon  a  wooded  hill,  playing  on  guitars  and 
brass  instruments.  Down  a  road  came  a  great  crowd  of 
people.  They  were  Good  Templars  who  had  been  on  a 
pleasure  trip.  He  recognized  them  by  the  big  banners, 
with  the  gold  inscriptions,  which  waved  above  them.  They 
sang  song  after  song  as  long  as  he  could  hear  them. 

After  that  the  boy  could  never  think  of  Gottland  with- 
out thinking  of  the  games  and  songs  at  the  same  time. 

He  had  been  sitting,  looking  down  a  long  while,  when 
he  happened  to  raise  his  eyes.  His  amazement  was  inde- 
scribable. Before  he  was  aware  of  it,  the  wild  geese  had 
left  the  interior  of  the  island  and  gone  westward  —  toward 
the  seacoast.  Now  the  wide,  blue  sea  lay  before  him. 
However,  it  was  not  the  sea  that  was  remarkable,  but  a 
city  which  appeared  on  the  shore. 

The  boy  was  coming  from  the  east,  and  the  sun  had  just  be- 


gun  to  sink  in  the  west.  As  he  drew  nearer  the  city,  its 
walls  and  towers  and  high,  gabled  houses  and  churches  stood 
there  quite  black  against  the  light  evening  sky.  There- 
fore, he  couldn't  see  what  it  was  really  like,  and  for  a 
moment  or  two  he  believed  that  this  city  was  just  as 
beautiful  as  the  one  he  had  seen  on  Easter-eve. 

When  he  came  right  up  to  it,  he  saw  that  it  was  both  like 
and  unlike  that  city  from  the  bottom  of  the  sea.  There  was 
the  same  contrast  between  these  two  cities  as  there  is  be- 
tween a  man  whom  one  sees  arrayed  in  purple  and  jewels  one 
day,  and  another  day  dressed  in  rags. 

Yes,  once  upon  a  time,  this  city  had  probably  been  like 
the  one  of  which  he  sat  dreaming.  This  one  was  also 
enclosed  by  a  wall  with  towers  and  gates.  But  the  towers 
in  this  city,  which  had  been  allowed  to  remain  on  land,  were 
roofless,  hollow,  and  empty.  The  gates  were  without  doors; 
sentinels  and  warriors  had  disappeared.  All  the  glittering 
splendour  was  past  and  gone.  There  was  nothing  left  but 
the  naked,  gray  stone  skeleton. 

As  the  boy  came  farther  into  the  city,  he  saw  that  the 
larger  part  of  it  was  made  up  of  small,  low  houses;  but  here 
and  there  stood  a  few  high  gabled  houses  and  cathedrals 
which  were  from  the  olden  time.  The  walls  of  the  gabled 
houses  were  painted  white,  and  entirely  without  ornamen- 
tation; but  because  the  boy  had  so  lately  seen  the  buried 
city,  he  seemed  to  understand  how  they  once  had  been 
decorated:  some  with  statues,  and  others  with  black  and 
white  marble.  And  it  was  the  same  with  the  old  cathe- 
drals; they  were  mostly  roofless  with  bare  interiors.  The 
window  openings  were  empty,  the  floors  grass-grown,  and 
ivy  clambered  along  the  walls.  But  now  he  knew  how  they 
had  looked  once  upon  a  time :  they  had  been  covered  with 


paintings  and  images;  the  chancel  had  been  adorned  with 
altars  and  gilded  crosses,  and  there  priests  had  moved, 
arrayed  in  golden  vestments. 

The  boy  saw  also  the  narrow  streets,  which  were  almost 
deserted  on  this  holiday  afternoon.  He  knew,  he  did,  what 
throngs  of  stately  people  had  once  upon  a  time  swarmed 
there ! 

But  that  which  Nils  Holgersson  did  not  see  was,  that  the 
city  even  to-day  is  both  beautiful  and  quaint.  He  saw 
neither  the  cozy  cottages  on  the  side  streets,  with  their 
white-trimmed  black  walls,  the  red  geraniums  behind  the 
shining  window-panes,  nor  the  many  pretty  gardens  and 
avenues,  nor  the  beautv  of  the  vine-clad  ruins.  His 

*  */ 

mind  was  so  filled  with  the  preceding  splendour  that  he 
could  see  no  beauty  in  the  present. 

The  wild  geese  flew  back  and  forth  over  the  city  several 
times,  so  that  Thumbietot  might  see  everything.  Finally, 
they  sank  down  on  the  grass-grown  floor  of  a  cathedral 
ruin,  to  spend  the  night. 

Long  after  they  had  gone  to  sleep,  Thumbietot  was  still 
awake  and  sat  gazing  up  through  the  open  arches  at  the 
evening  sky.  When  he  had  sat  there  a  while,  he  made  up 
his  mind  not  to  grieve  any  more  because  he  hadn't  been 
able  to  save  the  buried  city. 

No,  that  he  shouldn't  do,  now  that  he  had  seen  this  one. 
If  the  other  city  had  not  sunk  into  the  sea  again,  then  per- 
haps in  time  it  would  have  become  as  dilapidated  as  this 
one.  Perhaps  it  could  not  have  resisted  time  and  decay, 
but  would  have  stood  there  with  roofless  churches  and 
bare  houses  and  desolate,  empty  streets  —  just  like  this 
one.  Then  it  was  better  that  it  should  remain  in  all  its 
glory  down  in  the  deep. 


"What  happened  was  best,"  thought  he.  "If  I  had 
the  power  to  save  the  city,  I  don't  believe  that  I  should  care 
to  do  it."  Then  he  no  longer  grieved  over  that  matter. 

And  there  are  doubtless  many  among  the  younger 
generation  who  think  in  the  same  way.  But  when  people 
are  old,  and  have  accustomed  themselves  to  being  satisfied 
with  little,  then  they  are  more  happy  over  the  Visby  that 
lives,  than  over  a  magnificent  Vineta  at  the  bottom  of  the 



Tuesday,  April  twelfth. 

THE  wild  geese  had  made  a  good  trip  over  the  sea,  and 
had  alighted  in  Tjust  Parish  in  northern  Smaland. 
That  parish  seemed  unable  to  make  up  its  mind  whether 
it  wanted  to  be  land  or  sea.  Bays  ran  in  everywhere, 
and  cut  the  land  up  into  islands  and  peninsulas  and 
points  and  capes.  The  sea  was  so  forceful  that  the  only 
things  which  could  hold  themselves  above  it  were  hills  and 
mountains.  All  the  lowlands  were  hidden  away,  under  the 

It  was  evening  when  the  wild  geese  came  in  from  the  sea; 
and  the  land  with  the  little  hills  lay  prettily  between  the 
shimmering  bays.  Here  and  there,  on  the  islands,  the  boy 
saw  cabins  and  cottages;  and  the  farther  inland  he  travelled, 
the  bigger  and  better  became  the  dwelling  houses,  till, 
finally,  they  grew  into  large,  white  manors.  Along  the 
shores  was  a  border  of  trees;  and  beyond  lay  field-plots, 
and  on  the  tops  of  the  little  hills  there  were  more  trees. 
He  could  not  help  but  think  of  Blekinge.  Here  again  was 
a  place  where  land  and  sea  met  in  a  charming  and  peace- 
ful way,  trying,  as  it  were,  to  show  each  other  the  best  and 
loveliest  thev  possessed. 

The  wild  geese  alighted  upon  a  barren  rock  island  in 
Goose  Bay.  The  first  glance  at  the  shore  assured  them 
that  spring  had  made  rapid  strides  while  they  were  on  the 



islands.  The  big,  fine  trees  were  not  as  yet  leaf-clad,  but 
the  ground  under  them  was  brocaded  with  white  anemones, 
gagea,  and  blue  anemones. 

When  the  wild  geese  saw  the  flower-carpet  they  feared 
that  they  had  lingered  too  long  in  the  southern  part  of  the 
country.  Akka  immediately  remarked  that  there  was  no 
time  in  which  to  look  up  any  of  the  stopping  places  in 
Smaland.  By  the  next  morning  they  must  travel  north- 
ward, over  Ostergotland. 

The  boy  should  then  see  nothing  of  Smaland,  which 
grieved  him.  He  had  heard  more  about  Smaland  than 
about  any  other  province,  and  he  had  longed  to  see  it  with 
his  own  eyes. 

The  summer  before,  when  he  served  as  goose-boy  with  a 
farmer  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Jordberga,  he  used  to  meet 
almost  every  day  two  Smaland  children,  who  also  tended 
geese.  These  children  had  irritated  him  terribly  with  their 

It  wouldn't  be  fair  to  say  that  Osa,  the  goose-girl,  had 
annoyed  him.  She  was  much  too  wise  for  that.  But  the 
one  who  could  be  aggravating  with  a  vengeance  was  her 
brother,  little  Mats. 

"Have  you  heard,  Nils  Goose-boy,  what  happened  when 
Smaland  and  Skane  were  created?''  he  would  ask,  and  if 
Nils  Holgersson  said  no,  he  promptly  began  to  relate  the 
old  joke-legend. 

'Well,  it  happened  at  the  time  when  Our  Lord  was 
creating  the  world.  While  he  was  doing  his  best  work, 
Saint  Peter  came  along.  He  stopped  and  looked  on,  and 
then  he  asked  if  it  was  hard  wrork.  'Well,  it  isn't  exactly 
easy,'  said  Our  Lord.  Saint  Peter  stood  there  a  while 
longer,  and  when  he  noticed  how  easy  it  appeared  to  lay 


out  one  landscape  after  another,  he  too  wanted  to  try  his 
hand  at  it.  *  Perhaps  you  need  to  rest  yourself  a  little,'  said 
Saint  Peter,  'I  could  attend  to  the  work  in  the  meantime 
for  you.'  But  this  Our  Lord  did  not  wish.  'I  do  not  know 
if  you  are  so  much  at  home  in  this  art  that  I  can  trust  you 
to  take  hold  where  I  leave  off,'  he  answered.  Then  Saint 
Peter  was  angry,  and  said  that  he  believed  he  could  create 
just  as  fine  countries  as  Our  Lord  himself. 

"It  so  happened  that  Our  Lord  was  just  then  creating 
Smaland.  It  wasn't  even  half  ready  but  it  looked  as  if  it 
would  become  an  indescribably  beautiful  and  fertile  land.  It 
was  difficult  for  Our  Lord  to  say  no  to  Saint  Peter,  and, 
besides,  he  thought  very  likely  that  a  thing  so  well  begun  no 
one  could  spoil.  Therefore  he  said :  *  If  you  like,  we  will 
prove  which  of  us  understands  this  sort  of  work  the  better. 
You,  who  are  only  a  novice,  shall  go  on  with  this,  which  I 
have  begun,  and  I  will  create  a  new  land.'  To  this  Saint 
Peter  agreed  at  once;  so  they  went  to  work  —  each  in  his 

"  Our  Lord  moved  southward  a  bit,  where  he  undertook  to 
create  Skane.  And  it  wasn't  long  before  he  was  through 
with  it,  and  asked  if  Saint  Peter  had  also  finished,  and 
would  come  to  look  at  his  work.  'Mine  was  ready  long  ago,' 
said  Saint  Peter;  and  from  the  sound  of  his  voice  it  was 
plain  how  pleased  he  was  with  what  he  had  accomplished. 

"When  Saint  Peter  saw  Skane,  he  had  to  acknowledge 
that  there  was  nothing  but  good  to  be  said  of  that  country. 
It  was  a  fertile  land  and  easy  to  cultivate,  with  wide  plains 
wherever  one  looked,  and  with  hardly  a  sign  of  hills.  It 
was  evident  that  Our  Lord  had  really  contemplated  making 
it  such  that  people  would  feel  at  home  there.  'Yes,  this 
is  a  good  country,'  said  Saint  Peter,  'but  I  think  that 


mine  is  better.5  'Then  we'll  take  a  look  at  it,'  said  Our 

"The  land  was  already  finished  in  the  north  and  east 
when  Saint  Peter  began  the  work,  but  the  southern  and 
western  parts,  and  the  whole  interior,  he  had  created  all  by 
himselfo  Now  when  Our  Lord  came  up  there,  where  Saint 
Peter  had  been  at  work,  he  was  so  horrified  that  he  stopped 
short  and  exclaimed:  'What  on  earth  have  you  been  doing 
to  this  land,  Saint  Peter?' 

"Saint  Peter,  too?  stood  looking  around — perfectly 
astonished.  He  had  had  the  idea  that  nothing  could  be  so 
good  for  a  land  as  a  great  deal  of  heat.  Therefore  he  had 
gathered  together  an  enormous  mass  of  stones  and  moun- 
tains, and  had  erected  a  highland,  and  this  he  had  done  so 
that  it  might  be  near  the  sun,  and  receive  much  help  from 
the  sun's  heat.  Over  the  stone-heaps  he  had  spread  a  thin 
layer  of  soil,  and  then  he  had  thought  that  everything  was 
well  arranged. 

"But  while  he  was  down  in  Skane,  a  couple  of  heavy 
showers  had  come  up,  and  more  was  not  needed  to  show 
what  his  work  amounted  to.  When  Our  Lord  came  to 
inspect  the  land,  all  the  soil  had  been  washed  away,  and 
the  naked  rock  foundation  shone  forth  all  over.  Where  it 
was  about  the  best,  lay  clay  and  heavy  gravel  over  the  rocks, 
but  it  looked  so  poor  that  it  was  plainly  to  be  seen  that 
little  else  than  spruce  and  juniper  and  moss  and  heather 
could  grow  there.  But  what  there  was  plenty  of  was 
wrater!  It  covered  all  the  clefts  in  the  mountain;  and  lakes 
and  rivers  and  brooks  were  everywhere,  to  say  nothing 
of  swamps  and  morasses,  which  spread  over  large  areas. 
And  the  most  exasperating  of  it  all  was,  that  while  some 
tracts  had  too  much  water,  it  was  so  scarce  in  others  that 


whole  fields  lay  like  dry  moors,  where  sand  and  earth  whirled 
up  in  clouds  with  the  least  little  breeze. 

'What  can  have  been  your  meaning  in  creating  such  a 
land  as  this?'  said  Our  Lord.  Saint  Peter  made  excuses, 
and  declared  he  had  wished  to  build  up  a  land  so  high  that 
it  should  have  plenty  of  warmth  from  the  sun.  'But  then 
you  will  also  get  much  of  the  night  chill,'  said  Our  Lord, 
'for  that  too  conies  from  heaven.  I  am  very  much  afraid 
the  little  that  can  grow  here  will  freeze.' 

'  This  to  be  sure,  Saint  Peter  hadn't  thought  about. 
'Yes,  here  it  will  be  a  poor  and  frost-bound  land,'  said 
Our  Lord.     'It  can't  be  helped.' " 

When  little  Mats  had  got  this  far  in  his  story,  Osa,  the 
goose-girl,  protested:  "I  cannot  bear,  little  Mats,  to  hear 
you  say  that  it  is  so  miserable  in  Smaland,  You  forget 
entirely  how  much  good  soil  there  is  there.  Only  think 
of  More  district,  by  Kalmar  Sound!  I  wonder  where 
you'll  find  a  richer  grain  region.  There  are  fields  upon 
fields,  just  like  here  in  Skane.  The  soil  is  so  good  that  I 
cannot  imagine  anything  that  couldn't  grow  there." 

"I  can't  help  that,"  little  Mats  insisted.  "I'm  only 
relating  what  others  have  said  before." 

"And  I  have  heard  many  say  that  there  is  not  a  more 
beautiful  coast  land  than  Tjust.  Think  of  the  bays  and 
islets;  of  the  manors  and  the  groves!"  said  Osa.  "Yes, 
that's  true  enough,"  little  Mats  admitted,  "And  don't  you 
remember,"  continued  Osa,  :'the  school  teacher  said  that 
such  a  lively  and  picturesque  district  as  that  bit  of  Smaland 
which  lies  south  of  Lake  Vettern  is  not  to  be  found  in  all 
Sweden?  Think  of  the  beautiful  lake  and  the  yellow  coast- 
mountains,  and  of  Grenna  and  Jonkoping,  with  its  match 
factory,  and  think  of  Huskvarna,  and  all  the  big  establish- 


ments  there!'3  'Yes,  that's  true  enough,"  said  little  Mats 
once  again.  "And  think  of  Visingso,  little  Mats,  with  the 
ruins  and  the  oak  forests  and  the  legends!  Think  of  the 
valley  through  which  Em  River  flows,  with  all  the  villages 
and  flour-mills  and  sawmills  and  carpenter  shops!"  "Yes, 
that  is  true  enough,"  said  little  Mats,  and  seemed  troubled. 
All  of  a  sudden  he  looked  up  and  said:  "Now  we  are 
pretty  stupid!  All  this,  of  course,  lies  in  Our  Lord's 
Smaland,  in  that  part  of  the  land  which  was  already  finished 
when  Saint  Peter  undertook  the  job.  It's  only  natural  that 
it  should  be  pretty  and  fine  there.  But  in  Saint  Peter's 
Smaland  it  looks  as  it  says  in  the  legend.  And  it  wasn't 
surprising  that  Our  Lord  was  distressed  when  he  saw  it," 
continued  little  Mats,  picking  up  the  thread  of  his  story. 
"Saint  Peter  didn't  lose  his  courage,  at  all  events,  but  tried 
to  comfort  Our  Lord.  *  Don't  be  so  grieved  over  this!'  he 
said.  'Only  wait  until  I  have  created  people  who  can  till 
the  swamps  and  break  up  fields  from  the  stone  hills.' 

'That  was  the  end  of  Our  Lord's  patience  —  and  he  said: 
%No!  you  can  go  down  to  Skane  and  make  the  Skaninge, 
but  the  Smalander  I  shall  create  myself.*  And  so  Our  Lord 
created  the  Smalander,  and  made  him  quick-witted  and 
contented  and  happy  and  thrifty  and  enterprising  and  cap- 
able, that  he  might  be  able  to  get  his  living  in  his  poor 

Then  little  Mats  was  silent;  and  if  Nils  Holgersson  had 
also  kept  still,  all  would  have  gone  well;  but  he  couldn't 
possibly  refrain  from  asking  how  Saint  Peter  had  succeeded 
in  creating  the  Skaninge. 

'Well,  what  do  you  think  yourself?"  said  little  Mats, 
and  he  looked  so  scornful  that  Nils  fell  upon  him,  to 
thrash  him.  But  Mats  was  only  a  little  chap,  and  Osa, 


the  goose-girl,  who  was  a  year  older  than  he,  ran  for- 
ward instantly  to  help  him.  Good-natured  though  she 
was,  she  sprang  like  a  lion  as  soon  as  any  one  touched  her 

Nils  Holgersson  did  not  care  to  fight  a  girl,  so  turned  his 
back;  and  he  didn't  look  at  those  Smaland  children  for  the 
rest  of  the  day. 



IN  THE  southwest  corner  of  Smaland  lies  a  parish  called 
Sonnerbo  —  a  rather  smooth  and  even  country.  And 
one  who  sees  it  in  winter,  when  it  is  covered  with  snow,  can- 
not imagine  that  there  is  anything  under  the  snow  but 
garden-plots,  rye-fields,  and  clover-meadows,  as  is  generally 
the  case  in  flat  countries.  But,  in  the  beginning  of  April, 
when  the  snow  melts  away  in  Sonnerbo,  it  becomes  apparent 
that  under  it  lie  only  dry,  sandy  heaths,  bare  rocks,  and  big, 
marshy  swamps.  There  are  fields  here  and  there,  to  be 
sure,  but  these  are  so  small  that  they  are  scarcely  worth 
mentioning;  and  there  are  also  little  red  or  gray  farmhouses 
hidden  away  in  some  birch-coppice  —  almost  as  if  they 
were  afraid  to  be  seen. 

Where  Sonnerbo  Parish  touches  the  boundaries  of  Hal- 
land,  there  is  a  sandy  heath  which  is  so  far-reaching  that 
he  who  stands  at  one  end  of  it  cannot  look  across  to  the 
other.  Nothing  except  heather  grows  on  the  heath,  and 
it  wouldn't  be  easy  to  coax  other  growths  to  thrive  there. 
To  start  with,  one  would  have  to  uproot  the  heather;  for 
it  is  thus  with  heather :  although  it  has  only  a  little  shrunken 
root,  small  shrunken  branches,  and  dry,  shrunken  leaves,  it 
fancies  itself  a  tree.  Therefore,  it  acts  just  like  real  trees  - 
spreads  itself  out  in  forest  fashion  over  wide  areas;  holds 



faithfully  together,  and  causes  all  foreign  growths  that  wish 
to  crowd  in  upon  its  territory  to  die  out. 

The  only  place  on  the  heath  where  the  heather  is  not  all- 
powerful  is  a  low,  stony  ridge  which  crosses  it.  There  you'll 
find  juniper  bushes,  mountain  ash,  and  a  few  large,  fine 
oaks.  At  the  time  that  Nils  travelled  around  with  the  wild 
geese,  a  little  cabin  stood  there,  with  a  bit  of  cleared  ground 
around  it.  But  the  people  who  once  lived  there  for  some 
reason  or  other  had  moved  away.  The  little  cabin  was 
empty  now,  and  the  ground  lay  unused. 

On  leaving  the  cabin  the  tenants  had  closed  the  damper, 
fastened  the  window-hooks,  and  locked  the  door.  But  no 
one  had  thought  of  the  broken  window-pane  which  was 
only  stopped  up  with  a  rag.  After  the  showers  of  a  couple 
of  summers,  the  rag  had  moulded  and  shrunk,  and,  finally, 
a  crow  had  succeeded  in  poking  it  out. 

The  ridge  on  the  heather-heath  was  really  not  so  desolate 
as  one  might  think,  for  it  was  inhabited  by  a  large  crow-folk. 
Naturally,  the  crows  did  not  live  there  all  the  year  around. 
They  moved  to  foreign  lands  in  the  winter;  in  the  autumn 
they  travelled  from  one  grain-field  to  another  over  all 
Gotaland,  and  picked  grain;  during  the  summer,  they  spread 
themselves  over  the  farms  in  Sonnerbo  Parish,  and  lived 
upon  eggs  and  berries  and  birdlings;  but  every  spring,  at 
nesting  time,  they  came  back  to  the  heather-heath. 

The  one  who  had  poked  the  rag  from  the  window  was 
a  crow-cock  named  Garm  Whitefeather;  but  he  was  never 
called  anything  but  Fumle  or  Drumle,  or  out  and  out  Fumle- 
Drumle,  because  he  always  acted  awkwardly  and  stupidly, 
and  wasn't  good  for  anything  except  to  be  made  fun  of. 
Fumle-Drumle  was  bigger  and  stronger  than  any  of  the 
other  crows,  but  that  didn't  help  him  in  the  least;  he  was  — 


and  remained  —  a  butt  for  ridicule.  Nor  did  it  profit  him 
that  he  came  of  very  good  stock.  By  rights  he  should 
have  been  leader  for  the  whole  flock,  since  this  honour  from 
time  immemorial  had  belonged  to  the  oldest  Whitefeather. 
But  long  before  Fumle-Drumle  was  born,  the  power  had 
gone  from  his  family,  and  it  was  now  held  by  a  cruel  wild 
crow  named  Wind-Rush. 

This  transference  of  power  was  due  to  the  fact  that  the 
crows  on  crow-ridge  had  decided  to  change  their  manner  of 
living.  Possibly  there  are  many  who  think  that  everything 
in  the  shape  of  crow  lives  in  the  same  way;  but  such  is  not 
the  case.  There  are  entire  crow-folk  who  lead  respectable 
lives  —  that  is  to  say,  they  eat  only  grain,  worms,  cater- 
pillars, and  dead  animals;  and  there  are  others  who  lead  a 
regular  bandit's  life,  who  throw  themselves  upon  baby 
hares  and  small  birds,  and  who  plunder  every  bird's  nest 
they  set  eyes  on. 

The  ancient  Whitefeathers  had  been  strict  and  temperate; 
and  so  long  as  they  had  led  the  flock,  the  crows  had  been 
compelled  to  conduct  themselves  in  such  a  way  that  other 
birds  could  speak  no  ill  of  them.  But  the  crows  were 
numerous,  and  poverty  was  great  among  them.  They 
didn't  care  to  go  the  whole  length  of  living  a  strictly  moral 
life,  so  they  rebelled  against  the  Whitefeathers,  and  gave 
the  power  to  Wind-Rush  who  was  the  worst  nest-plunderer 
and  robber  that  could  be  imagined  —  if  his  wife,  Wind- 
Air,  wasn't  worse  still.  Under  their  government  the  crows 
had  begun  to  lead  such  a  life  that  now  they  were  more 
feared  than  pigeon-hawks  and  leech-owls. 

Naturally,  Fumle-Drumle  had  nothing  to  say  in  the  flock. 
The  crows  were  all  of  the  opinion  that  he  did  not  in  the 
least  take  after  his  forefathers,  and  that  he  wouldn't  do 


as  a  leader.  No  one  would  have  noticed  him,  if  he  hadn't 
constantly  committed  fresh  blunders.  A  few,  who  were 
quite  sensible,  said  that  perhaps  it  was  lucky  for  Fumle- 
Drumle  that  he  was  such  a  bungling  idiot;  otherwise  Wind- 
Rush  and  Wind-Air  would  hardly  have  allowed  him,  who  was 
of  the  old  chieftain  stock,  to  remain  with  the  flock. 

Now,  on  the  other  hand,  they  were  rather  friendly  toward 
him,  and  willingly  took  him  along  with  them  on  their 
marauding  explorations,  where  all  could  observe  how  much 
more  skilful  and  daring  they  were  than  he. 

None  of  the  crows  knew  that  it  was  Fumle-Drumle  who 
had  pecked  the  rag  out  of  the  window;  for  had  they  known 
of  this,  they  would  have  been  very  much  astonished.  Such 
a  thing  as  daring  to  approach  a  human  habitation  they  had 
never  credited  him  with.  He  had  kept  this  very  carefully 
to  himself,  and  he  had  his  own  good  reasons  for  doing  so. 
Wind  and  Air  always  treated  him  well  in  the  daytime,  and 
when  the  others  were  around.  But  one  dark  night,  when 
the  comrades  were  perched  on  the  night  branch,  he  was 
attacked  by  a  couple  of  crows  and  nearly  murdered.  After 
that  every  night,  when  it  was  dark,  he  moved  from  his 
usual  sleeping  quarters  into  the  empty  cabin. 

Now  one  afternoon,  when  the  crows  on  the  crow-ridge 
had  put  their  nests  in  order,  they  happened  upon  a  re- 
markable find.  Wind-Rush,  Fumle-Drumle,  and  a  couple 
of  the  others  had  flown  down  into  a  big  hollow  in  one 
corner  of  the  heath.  The  hollow  was  nothing  but  a  gravel- 
pit,  but  th  i  crows  could  not  be  satisfied  with  such  a  sim- 
ple explanation;  they  flew  down  into  it  continually,  turning 
over  every  single  sand-grain  to  get  at  the  reason  why  hu- 
man beings  had  dug  it.  While  the  crows  were  potter- 
ing around  down  there,  a  mass  of  gravel  fell  from  one 


side.  They  rushed  up  to  it,  and  had  the  good  fortune  to 
find  amongst  the  fallen  stones  and  stubble  a  large  earthen 
crock,  which  was  locked  with  a  wooden  clasp.  Naturally, 
they  wanted  to  know  if  there  was  anything  in  it,  and  tried 
to  peck  holes  in  the  crock  and  to  bend  up  the  clasp,  but  had 
no  success. 

They  stood  perplexed  looking  at  the  crock,  when  they 
heard  some  one  say:  "Shall  I  come  down  and  assist  you 
crows?"  They  glanced  up  quickly.  On  the  edge  of  the  hol- 
low sat  a  fox  blinking  down  at  them.  He  was  one  of  the 
prettiest  foxes  as  to  both  colour  and  form  that  they  had  ever 
seen.  The  only  fault  with  him  was  that  he  had  lost  an  ear. 

"If  you  wish  to  do  us  a  service,  we  will  not  say  nay,"  said 
Wind-Rush,  as  he  and  the  others  flew  up  from  the  hollow. 
Then  the  fox  jumped  down  in  their  place,  pecked  at  the  jar 
and  pulled  at  the  lock  —  but  he  couldn't  open  it  either. 

"  Can  you  make  out  what  there  is  in  it?  "  said  Wind-Rush. 
The  fox  rolled  the  jar  back  and  forth,  and  listened  care- 
fully. "It  must  be  silver  money,"  said  he. 

This  was  more  than  the  crows  had  expected.  "Do  you 
think  it  can  be  silver?'5  they  gasped,  their  eyes  ready 
to  pop  out  of  their  heads  with  greed;  for  remarkable  as  it 
may  sound,  there  is  nothing  in  the  world  which  crows  love 
so  much  as  silver. 

"Hear  how  it  rattles!"  said  the  fox,  rolling  the  crock 
around  once  more.  "Only  I  can't  understand  how  we  shall 
get  at  it."  '  That  will  surely  be  impossible,"  said  the  crows. 
The  fox  stood  rubbing  his  head  against  his  left  fore-leg,  and 
pondered:  Now  perhaps  he  might  succeed,  with  the  help 
of  the  crows,  in  mastering  that  little  imp  who  was  always 
eluding  him.  "Oh!  I  know  some  one  who  can  open  the 
crock  for  you,"  said  the  fox.  "Then  tell  us!  Tell  us!"  cried 


the  crows;  and  they  were  so  excited  that  they  tumbled  down 
into  the  pit.  'That  I  will  do,  if  you'll  first  promise  me  that 
you  will  agree  to  my  terms,"  he  said. 

Then  the  fox  told  the  crows  about  Thumbietot,  and  said 
that  if  they  could  only  bring  him  to  the  heath  he  would  open 
the  crock  for  them.  But  in  payment  for  this  counsel,  he 
demanded  that  they  should  deliver  Thumbietot  to  him  as 
soon  as  he  had  got  the  silver  money  for  them.  The  crows 
had  no  reason  to  spare  Thumbietot,  so  accepted  the  pro- 
posal at  once.  It  was  easy  enough  to  agree  to  this;  but  it 
was  not  so  easy  to  find  out  where  Thumbietot  and  the  wild 
geese  were  stopping. 

Wind-Rush  himself  started  away  with  fifty  crows,  and 
said  that  he  should  soon  return.  But  one  day  after  another 
passed  without  the  crows  on  the  crow-ridge  seeing  a  shadow 
of  him. 


Wednesday,  April  thirteenth. 

THE  wild  geese  were  up  at  daybreak,  in  time  to  get  them- 
selves a  bite  of  food  before  starting  out  on  their  journey 
toward  Ostergotland.  The  island  in  Goose  Bay,  where 
they  had  slept,  was  small  and  barren,  but  in  the  water  all 
around  it  were  water-weeds  upon  which  they  could  eat  their 
fill.  It  was  worse  for  the  boy,  however.  He  couldn't  man- 
age to  find  anything  eatable. 

As  he  stood  there,  hungry  and  drowsy,  looking  around  in 
all  direction  3,  his  glance  fell  upon  a  pair  of  squirrels  play- 
ing upon  the  wooded  point,  opposite  the  rock  island.  He 
wondered  if  the  squirrels  had  any  of  their  winter  supplies  left, 
and  asked  the  white  goosey-gander  to  take  him  over  to  the 
point  that  he  might  beg  them  for  a  couple  of  hazelnuts. 


The  white  one  promptly  swam  across  the  bay  with  the 
boy,  but  as  luck  would  have  it,  the  squirrels  were  having  so 
much  fun  chasing  each  other  from  tree  to  tree  that  they 
didn't  bother  about  listening  to  him.  Instead  they  drew 
farther  into  the  grove.  He  hurried  after  them,  and  was 
soon  out  of  the  goosey-gander's  sight  —  the  latter  stayed 
behind  and  waited  on  the  shore. 

The  boy  was  wading  forward  between  some  white 
crocus-stems  -  -  which  were  so  high  that  they  reached  to  his 
chin  —  when  he  felt  some  one  from  behind  catch  hold  of 
him,  and  try  to  lift  him  up.  He  faced  about  and  saw  that  a 
crow  had  gripped  him  by  the  shirt-band.  He  tried  to  jerk 
himself  loose,  but  before  he  could  do  so,  another  crow  rushed 
up,  caught  him  by  the  stocking,  and  knocked  him  over. 

If  Nils  had  at  once  cried  for  help,  the  white  goosey- 
gander  certainly  could  have  saved  him;  but  the  boy  prob- 
ably thought  that  he  could  protect  himself,  unaided, 
against  a  couple  of  crows.  He  kicked  and  struck  out,  but 
the  crows  didn't  let  go  their  hold,  and  succeeded  in 
rising  into  the  air  with  him.  To  make  matters  worse,  they 
flew  so  recklessly  that  his  head  struck  a  branch.  He  got 
such  a  hard  bump  that  it  grew  black  before  his  eyes,  and  he 
lost  consciousness. 

When  he  opened  his  eyes  once  more,  he  found  himself 
high  above  the  ground.  He  regained  his  senses  slowly;  at 
first  he  knew  neither  where  he  was,  nor  what  he  saw.  When 
he  glanced  down,  he  noticed  that  under  him  was  spread  a 
tremendously  big  woolly  carpet  which  was  woven  in  greens 
and  reds,  and  in  large  irregular  patterns.  The  carpet  was 
very  thick  and  fine,  but  he  thought  it  a  pity  that  it  had  been 
so  badly  used.  It  was  actually  ragged ;  long  tears  ran  through 
it  and,  in  some  places,  large  pieces  were  torn  away.  But 


strangest  of  all,  it  was  spread  over  a  mirror-floor;  for 
under  the  holes  and  tears  in  the  carpet  shone  bright  and 
glittering  glass. 

And  then,  the  boy  saw  the  sun  come  rolling  up  in  the 
heavens.  Instantly,  the  mirror-glass  under  the  holes  and 
tears  in  the  carpet  began  to  shimmer  in  red  and  gold.  It 
looked  gorgeous,  and  the  boy  was  charmed  with  the  pretty 
colour-scheme,  although  he  didn't  exactly  understand  what 
it  was  that  he  saw.  But  now  the  crows  descended  and  at 
once  he  understood  that  the  big  carpet  under  him  was  the 
earth,  which  was  dressed  in  green  cone-trees  and  brown, 
naked  leaf-trees,  and  that  the  holes  and  tears  were  shim- 
mering bays  and  little  lakes. 

He  remembered  that  the  first  time  he  had  travelled  up  in 
the  air,  he  had  thought  that  the  earth  in  Skane  looked  like  a 
piece  of  checked  cloth.  But  this  landscape,  which  resem- 
bled a  torn  carpet  —  what  country  might  this  be? 

He  began  to  ask  himself  a  lot  of  questions.  Why  wasn't 
he  sitting  on  the  goosey-gander's  back?  Why  did  a  great 
swarm  of  crows  fly  around  him?  And  why  was  he  being 
pulled  and  knocked  hither  and  thither  so  that  he  was 
about  to  break  in  two. 

Then,  all  at  once,  the  whole  thing  dawned  upon  him. 
He  had  been  kidnapped  by  a  couple  of  crows.  The  white 
goosey-gander  was  still  on  the  shore,  waiting,  and  to-day 
the  wild  geese  were  to  travel  to  Ostergotland.  He  was 
being  carried  southwest;  this  he  understood  because  the 
sun's  disc  was  behind  him.  The  big  forest-carpet  which  lay 
beneath  him  was  surely  Smaland. 

"What  will  become  of  the  goosey-gander  now,  when  I  can- 
not look  after  him?"  thought  the  boy;  and  he  began  to 
shout  at  the  crows  to  take  him  back  to  the  wild  geese 


instantly.  He  was  not  at  all  uneasy  on  his  own  account 
for  he  believed  that  they  w^ere  carrying  him  off  simply  in  a 
spirit  of  mischief. 

The  crows  didn't  pay  the  slightest  attention  to  his  ex- 
hortations, but  flew  on  as  fast  as  they  could.  After  a  bit, 
one  of  them  flapped  his  wings  in  a  manner  which  meant: 
"Look  out !  Danger ! "  Soon  thereafter  they  came  down  in 
a  spruce  forest,  pushed  their  way  between  prickly  branches 
to  the  ground,  and  put  the  boy  down  under  a  thick  pine, 
where  he  was  so  well  concealed  that  not  even  a  falcon  could 
have  sighted  him. 

Fifty  crows,  with  bills  pointed  toward  him,  surrounded 
him.  "NowT,  crows,  perhaps  I  may  hear  what  your  pur- 
pose is  hi  carrying  me  off,"  said  he.  But  he  was  hardly 
allowed  to  finish  the  sentence  before  a  big  crow  hissed  at 
him:  "Keep  still!  or  I'll  bore  your  eyes  out!" 

It  was  plain  that  the  crow  meant  what  she  said;  and 
there  was  nothing  for  the  boy  to  do  but  obey.  So  he  sat 
there  and  stared  at  the  crows,  and  the  crows  stared  at 

The  longer  he  looked  at  them,  the  less  he  liked  them. 
Their  feather-dresses  were  shockingly  dusty  and  unkempt  — • 
as  if  they  had  never  come  in  contact  with  water  or  oil. 
Their  toes  and  claws  were  grimy  with  dried-in  mud,  and 
the  corners  of  their  mouths  were  covered  with  food  drip- 
pings. These  wTere  very  different  birds  from  the  wild  geese 
—  that  he  observed.  He  thought  they  had  a  cruel,  sneaky, 
watchful,  and  bold  appearance,  just  like  cut-throats  and 

"I  have  certainly  fallen  in  with  a  real  robber-band,"  he 
remarked  to  himself. 

Just  then  he  heard  the   wild  geese's  call  above  him. 


'Where  are  you?     Here  am  I.     Where  are  you?     Here 
am  I." 

He  understood  that  Akka  and  the  others  were  out  search- 
ing for  him;  but  before  he  could  answer  them,  the  big  crow, 
who  appeared  to  be  the  leader  of  the  band,  hissed  in  his 
ear:  'Think  of  your  eyes!"  And  there  was  nothing  for 
him  to  do  but  to  keep  still. 

He  heard  their  call  once  or  twice  more,  then  it  died 
away.  The  wild  geese  did  not  know  he  was  so  near  them. 
'Well,  you'll  have  to  get  along  by  yourself,  Nils  Holgers- 
son,"  he  thought.  "Now  you  must  prove  whether  or  not 
you  have  learned  anything  during  these  weeks  in  the 

A  moment  later  the  crows  gave  the  signal  to  break  up;  and 
since  it  was  still  their  intention,  apparently,  to  carry  him 
along  in  such  a  way  that  one  held  onto  his  shirt-band,  and 
one  to  a  stocking,  the  boy  said:  "Is  there  not  one  among 
you  strong  enough  to  carry  me  on  his  back?  You  have 
already  travelled  so  badly  with  me  that  I  feel  as  if  I  were  in 
pieces.  Only  let  me  ride!  I'll  not  jump  from  the  crow's 
back,  that  I  promise  you." 

"Oh!  you  needn't  think  that  we  mind  how  you  fare," 
snapped  the  leader.  But  now  the  largest  of  the  crows, 
a  dishevelled  and  uncouth  one  with  a  white  feather  in  his 
wing,  came  forward  and  said:  "It  would  certainly  be  best 
for  all  of  us,  Wind-Rush,  if  Thumbietot  got  there  whole, 
rather  thai,  in  sections.  Therefore,  I  shall  carry  him  on  my 
back."  "If  you  can  do  it,  Fumle-Drumle,  I  have  no  objec- 
tion," said  Wind-Rush.  "But  don't  lose  him!" 

Herewith  much  was  already  gained,  and  the  boy  actually 
felt  contented.  'There  is  nothing  to  be  gained  by  losing 
my  grit  because  I  have  been  kidnapped  by  the  crows," 





















thought  he.  "I'll  surely  be  able  to  manage  those  poor 
little  wretches." 

The  crows  continued  to  fly  southwest,  over  Smaland.  It 
was  a  glorious  morning  —  sunny  and  calm,  and  the  birds 
down  on  the  earth  were  singing  their  best  love  songs.  In  a 
high,  dark  forest  sat  the  thrush  himself,  with  drooping 
wings  and  swelling  throat;  and  he  struck  up  a  tune.  "How 
pretty  you  are!  How  pretty  you  are!  How  pretty  you 
are!"  sang  he.  "No  one  is  so  pretty.  No  one  is  so  pretty. 
No  one  is  so  pretty."  As  soon  as  he  had  finished  this  song, 
he  began  all  over  again. 

But  just  then  the  boy  rode  over  the  forest;  and  when  he 
had  heard  the  song  a  couple  of  times,  and  marked  that  the 
thrush  knew  no  other,  he  put  both  hands  up  to  his  mouth  as 
a  speaking  trumpet,  and  called  down:  'We've  heard  all 
this  before.  We've  heard  all  this  before."  "Who  is  it? 
Who  is  it?  Who  is  it?  W7ho  makes  fun  of  me?"  asked  the 
thrush  trying  to  catch  a  glimpse  of  the  one  who  called.  "  It 
is  Kidnapped-by-Crows  who  makes  fun  of  your  song," 
answered  the  boy.  At  that,  the  crow-chief  turned  his  head 
and  said:  "Be  careful  of  your  eyes,  Thumbietot!"  But 
the  boy  thought,  "Oh!  I  don't  care  about  that.  I  want  to 
show  you  that  I'm  not  afraid  of  you!" 

They  travelled  farther  and  farther  inland  with  woods 
and  lakes  everywhere.  In  a  birch-grove  on  a  naked  bough 
sat  Mrs.  Wood-Dove;  before  her  stood  Mr.  Wood-Dove. 
He  blew  up  his  feathers,  cocked  his  head,  raised  and  lowered 
his  body,  until  the  breast-feathers  rattled  against  the 
branch.  And  all  the  while  he  cooed:  "You,  you,  you  are 
the  loveliest  in  all  the  forest.  No  one  in  the  forest  is  so 
lovely  as  you,  you,  you ! " 

But  up  in  the  air  the  boy  rode  past,  and  when  he  heard 


Mr.  Dove  he  couldn't  keep  still.     "Don't  you  believe  him! 
Don't  you  believe  him!"  cried  he. 

"Who,  who,  who,  is  it  that  lies  about  me?  "  cooed  Mr.  Dove, 
and  tried  to  get  a  sight  of  the  one  who  shrieked  at  him. 
"It  is  Caught-by-Crows  that  lies  about  you,"  replied  the 
boy.  Again  Wind-Rush  turned  to  the  boy  and  commanded 
him  to  shut  up,  but  Fumle-Drumle,  who  was  carrying  him, 
said:  :'Let  him  chatter,  then  all  the  little  birds  will  think 
that  we  crows  have  become  quick-witted  and  funny  birds." 
"Oh!  they're  not  such  fools  as  that,"  said  Wind-Rush;  but 
he  liked  the  idea  just  the  same,  for  after  that  he  let  the  boy 
call  out  as  much  as  he  liked. 

They  flew  mostly  over  forests  and  woodlands.  In  one 
place  they  saw  a  pretty  old  manor-house  with  the  lake  before 
it,  and  the  forest  behind  it.  The  old  house  had  red  walls  and 
a  turreted  roof;  great  sycamores  about  the  grounds,  and  big, 
thick  gooseberry-bushes  in  the  orchard.  On  top  of  the 
yeathercock  sat  the  starling,  singing  so  loud  that  every  note 
was  heard  by  the  wife,  who  sat  on  an  egg  in  the  heart  of  a 
pear  tree.  'We  have  four  pretty  little  eggs,"  sang  the 
starling.  '  We  have  four  pretty  little  round  eggs.  We  have 
'he  whole  nest  filled  with  fine  eggs." 

When  the  starling  sang  the  song  for  the  thousandth  time, 
Jie  boy  rode  over  the  place.  He  put  his  hands  up  to  his 
mouth,  as  a  pipe,  and  called  to  the  starling:  'The  magpie 
will  get  them.  The  magpie  will  get  them." 

4  Whc  is  it  that  wants  to  frighten  me?  "  asked  the  starling, 
and  flapped  his  wings  uneasily.  "It  is  Captured-by- 
Crows  that  frightens  you,"  said  the  boy.  This  tune  the 
crow-chief  didn't  attempt  to  hush  him  up.  Indeed  both 
he  and  his  flock  were  having  so  much  fun  that  they  cawed 
with  satisfaction. 


The  farther  inland  they  came,  the  larger  were  the  lakes, 
and  the  more  plentiful  the  islands  and  points.  And  on  a 
lake-shore  stood  a  drake  bowing  before  the  duck.  "I'll  be 
true  to  you  all  the  days  of  my  life.  I'll  be  true  to  you  all  the 
days  of  my  life,"  vowed  the  drake.  "It  won't  last  until 
the  summer's  end,"  shrieked  the  boy.  'Who  are  you?" 
called  the  drake.  "My  name's  Stolen-by-Crows,"  shrieked 
the  boy0 

At  dinner  time  the  crows  lighted  in  a  food-grove.  They 
walked  about  and  procured  food  for  themselves,  but  none 
of  them  thought  of  giving  the  boy  anything.  Then  Fumle- 
Drumle  came  riding  up  to  the  chief  with  a  dog-rose  branch 
with  a  few  dried  buds  on  it.  "Here's  something  for  you, 
Wind-Rush,"  said  he.  "This  is  dainty  food,  and  suitable 
for  you."  Wind-Rush  sniffed  contemptuously.  "Do  you 
think  that  I  want  to  eat  old,  dry  buds?"  said  he.  "And  I 
thought  you  would  be  pleased  with  them!"  said  Fumle- 
Drumle,  throwing  away  the  dog-rose  branch  as  if  in  despair. 
It  fell  right  in  front  of  the  boy,  and  he  wasn't  slow  in 
grabbing  it  and  eating  until  he  was  satisfied. 

When  the  crows  were  done  eating,  they  began  to  chatter. 
"What  are  you  thinking  about,  Wind-Rush?  You  are  so 
quiet  to-day,"  said  one  of  them  to  the  leader.  'I'm  think- 
ing that  once  upon  a  time  there  lived  in  this  district  a  hen 
who  was  very  fond  of  her  mistress;  and  in  order  to  really 
please  her,  she  went  and  laid  a  nest  full  of  eggs,  which  she 
hid  under  the  storehouse  floor.  The  mistress  of  the  house 
wondered,  of  course,  where  the  hen  was  keeping  herself  such 
a  long  time.  She  searched  for  her,  but  did  not  find  her. 
Can  you  guess,  Longbill,  who  it  was  that  found  her  and  the 

"I  think  I  can  guess  it,  Wind-Rush,  but  when  you  have 


told  about  this,  I  will  tell  you  something  like  it.  Do  you 
remember  the  big,  black  cat  in  Hinneryd's  parish  house? 
She  was  dissatisfied  because  they  always  took  the  new- 
born kittens  from  her,  and  drowned  them.  Just  once  did 
she  succeed  in  keeping  them  concealed,  and  that  was  when 
she  had  lain  them  in  a  haystack  out  of  doors.  She  was  pretty 
well  pleased  with  those  young  kittens,  but  I  believe  that  I 
got  more  pleasure  out  of  them  than  she  did." 

Now  they  became  so  excited  that  they  all  talked  at  once. 
'What  kind  of  a  trick  is  that  —  to  steal  little  kittens?"  said 
one.  "I  once  chased  a  young  hare  who  was  almost  full- 
grown.  That  meant  to  follow  him  from  covert  to  covert." 
He  got  no  further  before  another  took  the  words  from  him. 
"It  may  be  sport,  perhaps,  to  annoy  hens  and  cats,  but  I 
find  it  still  more  remarkable  that  a  crow  can  worry  a  human 
being.  I  once  stole  a  silver  spoon 

But  now  the  boy  thought  he  was  too  good  to  sit  and  hear 
such  gabble.  "Now  listen  to  me,  you  crows!"  said  he. 
:<I  say  that  you  ought  to  be  ashamed  of  bragging 
about  all  your  wickedness.  I  have  lived  amongst  wild 
geese  for  three  weeks,  and  while  with  them  I  never  heard 
or  saw  anything  but  good.  You  must  have  a  bad  chief, 
since  he  permits  you  to  rob  and  murder  in  this  way.  You 
should  really  begin  life  anew,  for  I  can  tell  you  that 
human  beings  have  grown  so  tired  of  your  wickedness  that 
they  ?re  doing  everything  in  their  power  to  root  you  out. 
And  there  will  soon  be  an  end  to  you." 

When  Wind-Rush  and  the  crows  heard  this,  they  were 
so  furious  that  they  wanted  to  throw  themselves  upon  him 
and  tear  him  in  pieces.  But  Fumle-Drumle  laughed  and 
cawed,  and  stood  in  front  of  him.  "Oh,  no,  no!"  said 
he,  and  seemed  perfectly  horrified.  '  What  think  you  that 


Wind-Air  will  say  if  you  tear  Thumbietot  in  pieces  before 
he  has  got  that  silver  money  for  us?"  'It  has  to  be  you, 
Fumle-Drumle,  that's  afraid  of  women-folk,"  said  Rush. 
But,  at  any  rate,  both  he  and  the  others  left  Thumbietot  in 

Shortly  after  that  the  crows  moved  on.  Until  now  the 
boy  had  thought  that  Smaland  wasn't  such  a  poor  country 
after  all.  Of  course  it  was  woody  and  full  of  mountain- 
ridges,  but  alongside  the  islands  and  lakes  lay  cultivated 
grounds,  and  any  real  desolation  he  hadn't  come  upon. 
But  the  farther  inland  they  went  the  fewer  became  the  vil- 
lages and  cottages.  Toward  the  last,  he  thought  he  was 
riding  over  a  veritable  wilderness  of  nothing  but  swamps 
and  heaths  and  juniper-hills. 

The  sun  had  gone  down,  but  it  was  still  quite  light  when 
the  crows  reached  the  large  heather-heath.  Wind-Rush 
sent  a  crow  ahead  to  say  that  he  had  met  with  success;  and 
when  it  was  known,  Wind- Air,  with  several  hundred  crows 
from  crow-ridge,  flew  to  meet  the  arrivals.  In  the  midst 
of  the  deafening  cawing  which  the  crows  emitted,  Fumle- 
Drumle  said  to  the  boy:  'You  have  been  so  comical  and 
so  jolly  during  the  trip  that  I  am  really  fond  of  you.  There- 
fore, I  want  to  give  you  some  good  advice.  As  soon  as  we 
light,  you'll  be  requested  to  do  a  bit  of  work  which  may  seem 
very  easy  to  you;  but  beware  of  doing  it!" 

Soon  thereafter  Fumle-Drumle  put  Nils  down  in  the 
bottom  of  a  sand-pit.  The  boy  flung  himself  on  his  back, 
and  lay  there  as  though  he  were  simply  done  up.  Such  a  lot 
of  crows  fluttered  about  him  that  the  air  rustled  like  a  wind- 
storm, but  he  didn't  look  up. 

"Thumbietot,"  said  Wind-Rush,  "get  up  now!  You 
shall  help  us  with  a  matter  which  will  be  very  easy  for  you." 


The  boy  didn't  move,  but  pretended  to  be  asleep.  Then 
Wind-Rush  took  him  by  the  arm  and  dragged  him  over 
the  sand  toward  an  earthen  crock  of  old-time  make  that 
stood  in  the  pit.  :'Get  up,  Thumbietot,"  said  he,  "and 
open  this  crock!"  'Why  can't  you  let  me  sleep!"  yawned 
the  boy.  "I'm  too  tired  to  do  anything  to-night.  Wait 
until  to-morrow!" 

"Open  the  crock!"  said  Wind-Rush,  shaking  him. 
"How  shall  a  poor  little  child  be  able  to  open  such  a  crock? 
Why,  it's  quite  as  large  as  I  am  myself."  "Open  it!"  com- 
manded Wind-Rush  once  more,  "or  it  will  be  a  sorry  thing 
for  you."  The  boy  got  up,  tottered  over  to  the  crock, 
fumbled  the  clasp,  and  let  his  arms  fall.  "I'm  not  usually 
so  weak,"  he  said.  "If  you  will  only  let  me  sleep  until 
morning,  I  think  that  I'll  be  able  to  manage  with  that 

But  Wind-Rush  was  impatient,  and  he  flew  at  the 
boy  and  nipped  him  in  the  leg.  The  boy  didn't  care  to 
suffer  that  sort  of  treatment  from  a  crow.  He  jerked 
himself  loose,  ran  a  couple  of  paces  backward,  drew  his 
knife  from  the  sheath,  and  held  it  threateningly  in  front 
of  him.  'You'd  better  be  careful!"  he  cried  to  Wind- 

But  Wind-Rush,  too,  was  so  enraged  that  he  didn't  dodge 
the  danger.  He  rushed  at  the  boy,  just  as  if  he  were  blind, 
and  -an  so  straight  against  the  knife  that  it  entered  through 
his  eye  into  his  head.  The  boy  quickly  drew  the  knife 
back,  but  Wind-Rush  only  struck  out  with  his  wings,  then 
fell  dead. 

'Wind-Rush  is  dead!  The  stranger  has  killed  our  chief- 
tain, Wind-Rush!"  cried  the  nearest  crows.  And  then 
there  was  a  terrible  uproar.  Some  wailed,  others  cried  for 


vengeance.  They  all  ran  or  fluttered  up  to  the  boy,  with 
Fumle-Drumle  in  the  lead.  But  Fumle-Drumle  acted 
badly,  as  usual,  fluttering  and  spreading  his  wings  over 
the  boy,  and  preventing  the  others  from  coming  forward 
and  running  their  bills  into  him. 

The  boy  thought  that  now  things  looked  bad  for  him. 
He  couldn't  run  away  from  the  crows,  and  there  was 
no  place  where  he  could  hide.  Suddenly  he  happened  to 
think  of  the  earthen  crock.  He  took  a  firm  hold  on  the  clasp 
and  pulled  it  out.  Then  he  hopped  into  the  crock  to  hide 
there.  But  the  crock  was  a  poor  hiding-place,  for  it  was 
filled  almost  to  the  brim  with  little,  thin  silver  coins.  The 
boy  couldn't  get  far  enough  down,  so  he  stooped  and  began 
to  throw  out  the  coins. 

Until  now  the  crows  had  fluttered  around  him  in  a  thick 
swarm,  pecking  at  him,  but  when  he  threw  out  the 
money  they  immediately  forgot  their  thirst  for  vengeance, 
and  hurried  to  gather  the  coins.  The  boy  threw  out 
handf uls  and  all  the  crows  —  yes,  even  Wind-Air  herself  — • 
picked  them  up.  And  each  one  as  he  succeeded  in  picking 
up  a  coin  ran  off  to  the  nest  with  the  utmost  speed  to  con- 
ceal it. 

After  the  boy  had  thrown  out  all  the  silver  pennies 
from  the  crock  he  glanced  up.  But  one  crow  was  left 
in  the  sand-pit.  That  was  Fumle-Drumle,  with  the 
white  feather  in  his  wing;  he  who  had  carried  Thumb ietot. 
*'  You  have  rendered  me  a  greater  service  than  you  yourself 
understand,"  said  the  crow  in  a  tone  very  different  from  the 
one  he  had  used  hitherto,  "and  I  want  to  save  your  life. 
Sit  down  on  my  back,  and  I'll  take  you  to  a  hiding-place 
where  you  will  be  safe  to-night.  To-morrow,  I  shall  arrange 
it  so  that  you  can  get  back  to  the  wild  geese." 



Thursday,  April  fourteenth. 

THE  following  morning  when  the  boy  awoke,  he  was  ly- 
ing in  a  bed.  When  he  saw  that  he  was  in  a  house,  with 
four  walls  around  him,  and  a  roof  over  him,  he  thought 
that  he  was  at  home.  "I  wonder  if  mother  will  come 
soon  with  some  coffee,"  he  muttered  to  himself  where  he 
lay,  half  awake.  Then  he  remembered  that  he  was  in  a 
deserted  cabin  on  the  crow-ridge  and  that  Fumle-Drumle 
with  the  white  feather  had  borne  him  there  the  night  before. 

The  boy  was  sore  all  over  after  the  journey  he  had  made, 
and  he  thought  it  lovely  to  lie  still  while  waiting  for  Fumle- 
Drumle,  who  had  promised  to  come  and  fetch  him. 

Curtains  of  checked  cotton  hung  before  the  bed.  He 
drew  them  aside  to  look  out  into  the  cabin  and  instantly  it 
occurred  to  him  that  he  had  never  seen  the  mate  to  a  cabin 
like  this.  The  walls  consisted  of  nothing  but  two  rows  of 
logs;  then  the  roof  began.  There  was  no  interior  ceiling, 
so  he  could  look  clear  up  to  the  roof-tree.  The  cabin  was 
so  small  that  it  appeared  to  be  built  for  such  as  he 
rather  than  for  real  people.  However,  the  fireplace  and 
chimney  were  so  large,  he  thought  he  had  never  seen  larger. 
The  entrance  door  was  in  a  gable-wall  at  the  side  of  the  fire- 
place, and  so  narrow  that  it  was  more  like  a  wicket  than 
a  Joor.  In  the  other  gable-wall  he  saw  a  low  and  broad 
window  with  many  little  panes.  There  was  scarcely  any 
movable  furniture  in  the  cabin.  The  bench  by  the  wall 
and  the  table  under  the  window  were  stationary  —  also 
the  big  bed  where  he  lay,  and  the  many-coloured  cupboard. 

The  boy  could  not  help  wondering  who  owned  the  cabin, 
and  why  it  was  deserted.  It  certainly  looked  as  though  the 


people  who  had  lived  there  expected  to  return.  The  coffee- 
urn  and  the  gruel-pot  stood  on  the  hearth,  and  there  was 
wood  in  the  fireplace;  in  a  corner  stood  the  oven  rake  and 
baker's  peel;  the  spinning-wheel  was  raised  on  a  bench;  on 
the  shelf  over  the  window  lay  oakum  and  flax,  two  skeins 
of  yarn,  a  candle,  and  a  bunch  of  matches. 

Yes,  it  surely  looked  as  if  the  people  who  had  lived  there 
intended  to  come  back.  There  were  bedclothes  on  the  bed; 
and  the  walls  were  hung  with  long  strips  of  cloth,  upon 
which  three  riders  named  Kaspar,  Melchior,  and  Balthazar 
were  painted.  The  same  horses  and  riders  were  pictured 
many  times.  They  rode  all  around  the  cabin,  and  even  up 
toward  the  joists. 

But  in  the  roof  the  boy  saw  something  which  brought  him 
to  his  feet  in  a  jiffy.  Two  big  bread-cakes  hung  there  upon 
a  spit.  They  looked  old  and  mouldy,  but  it  was  bread  all 
the  same.  He  gave  them  a  knock  with  the  oven-rake  and 
one  cake  fell  to  the  floor.  He  ate  some  of  it,  then  filled 
his  bag.  It  was  incredible  how  good  bread  was,  anyhow. 

He  looked  around  the  cabin  once  more,  trying  to  discover 
if  there  was  anything  else  he  might  find  useful  to  take  along. 
"I  may  as  well  take  what  I  need,  since  no  one  else  cares 
about  it,"  thought  he.  But  most  everything  was  too  big 
and  heavy.  All  that  he  could  carry  might  be  a  few  matches, 

He  clambered  upon  the  table,  and  swung  himself,  with 
the  help  of  the  curtains,  onto  the  window-shelf.  While  he 
stood  there  stuffing  the  matches  into  his  bag,  the  crow  with 
the  white  feather  came  in  through  the  window.  "  Well,  here 
I  am  at  last,"  said  Fumle-Drumle  as  he  lit  on  the  table. 
"I  couldn't  get  here  any  sooner  because  we  crows  have 
elected  a  new  chieftain  in  Wind-Rush's  place."  "Whom 


have  you  chosen?"  asked  the  boy.  'Well,  we  have  chosen 
one  who  will  not  permit  robbery  and  injustice.  WTe  have 
elected  Garni  Whitefeather,  lately  called  Fumle-Drumle," 
he  answered,  drawing  himself  up  until  he  looked  absolutely 
regal.  "That  was  a  good  choice,"  said  the  boy,  and  con- 
gratulated him.  "  You  may  well  wish  me  luck ! "  said  Garm ; 
then  he  told  the  boy  about  the  time  they  had  had  with 
Wind-Rush  and  Wind-Air. 

During  this  recital  the  boy  heard  a  voice  outside  the 
window  which  he  thought  sounded  familiar.  "  Is  he  here? ' 
inquired  the  fox.  'Yes,  he's  hidden  in  there,"  answered  a 
crow- voice.  "Be  careful,  Thumbietot!"  cried  Garm,. 
'Wind-Air  stands  outside  with  that  fox  who  wants  to  eat 
you."  More  he  didn't  have  time  to  say,  for  just  then  Smirre 
dashed  against  the  window.  The  old,  rotten  window-frame 
gave  way.  The  next  second  Smirre  stood  on  the  window- 
table  and  Garm  Whitefeather,  who  had  no  time  to 
fly  away,  he  instantly  killed.  Thereupon  he  jumped 
to  the  floor,  and  looked  around  for  the  boy.  Thumbietot 
tried  to  hide  behind  a  big  oakum-spiral,  but  Smirre  had 
already  spied  him,  and  was  crouched  for  the  final  spring. 
Since  the  cabin  was  so  small  and  so  low,  the  boy  realized  that 
the  fox  would  have  no  difficulty  in  reaching  him.  But  at 
that  moment  the  boy  was  not  without  weapons  of  defence. 
Fe  quickly  struck  a  match,  set  it  to  the  oakum,  and  when 
it  was  aflame  he  threw  it  down  upon  Smirre  Fox.  As 
the  fire  enveloped  the  fox,  he  was  seized  with  mad  terror. 
He  thought  no  more  about  the  boy,  but  rushed  wildly  out 
of  the  cabin. 

But  it  looked  as  if  the  boy  had  escaped  one  danger  only 
to  throw  himself  into  a  greater  one.  From  the  tuft  of 
oakum  which  he  had  flung  at  Smirre  the  fire  had  spread  to 


the  bedhangings.  He  jumped  down  and  tried  to  smother  it, 
but  now  it  blazed  too  violently.  The  cabin  was  soon  filled 
with  smoke,  and  Smirre  Fox,  who  had  remained  just  out- 
side the  window,  began  to  grasp  the  state  of  affairs  within. 
'Well,  Thumbietot,"  he  called  out,  "which  do  you  choose 
now:  to  be  broiled  alive  in  there,  or  to  come  out  here  to  me? 
Of  course,  I  should  prefer  to  have  the  pleasure  of  eating 
you;  but  in  whichever  way  death  meets  you  it  will  be  dear 
to  me." 

The  boy  could  not  think  but  that  the  fox  was  right,  for 
the  fire  was  making  rapid  headway.  The  whole  bed  was 
now  ablaze;  smoke  rose  from  the  floor;  and  along  the 
painted  wall-strips  the  fire  crept  from  rider  to  rider.  The 
boy  had  jumped  up  into  the  fireplace  and  was  trying  to 
open  the  oven  door,  when  some  one  inserted  a  key  into  the 
keyhole  and  slowly  turned  the  lock.  "It  must  be  human 
beings  coming,"  he  thought.  And  in  his  dire  dilemma 
he  was  not  afraid,  but  only  glad.  He  was  already  on  the 
threshold  when  the  door  opened.  Before  him  stood  two  chil- 
dren. How  they  looked  when  they  saw  the  cabin  in  flames  he 
took  no  time  to  find  out,  but  rushed  past  them  into  the  open. 

He  didn't  dare  run  far.  He  knew,  of  course,  that  Smirre 
Fox  lay  in  wait  for  him,  and  he  understood  that  he  must 
remain  near  the  children.  He  turned  to  see  what  sort  of 
folk  they  were,  but  he  hadn't  looked  at  them  a  second 
before  he  ran  up  to  them  and  cried:  "Oh,  good-day, 
Osa  goose-girl!  Oh,  good-day,  little  Mats!'2 

For  when  the  boy  saw  those  children  he  forgot  entirely 
where  he  was.  Crows  and  burning  cabin  and  talking  ani- 
mals had  vanished  from  his  memory.  He  was  walking  on 
a  stubble-field  in  West  Vemmenhog  tending  a  goose-flock; 
and  beside  him,  on  the  field,  walked  those  same  Smaland 


children,  with  their  geese.  The  instant  he  recognized  them 
he  bounded  to  the  stone-hedge  and  shouted:  "Oh,  good- 
day,  Osa  goose-girl!  Oh,  good-day,  little  Mats!" 

But  when  the  children  saw  such  a  little  creature  coming 
up  to  them  with  outstretched  hands,  they  caught  hold  of 
each  other,  staggered  back,  and  looked  scared  to  death. 

When  the  boy  observed  their  terror  he  came  to  and 
remembered  who  he  was.  And  then  it  seemed  to  him  that 
nothing  worse  could  happen  than  that  those  children 
should  see  how  he  had  been  bewitched.  Shame  and  grief 
because  he  was  no  longer  a  human  being  overpowered  him, 
He  turned  and  fled  —  he  knew  not  whither. 

But  a  glad  meeting  awaited  the  boy  when  he  came  down 
to  the  heath.  For  there,  in  the  heather,  he  spied  something 
white,  and  toward  him  came  the  white  goosey-gander., 
accompanied  by  Dunfin.  When  the  white  one  saw  the  boy 
running  with  such  speed,  he  thought  that  dreadful  fiends 
were  pursuing  him.  So  he  hastily  flung  him  upon  his  back 
and  flew  off  with 



Thursday,  April  fourteenth. 

THREE  tired  wanderers  were  out  in  the  late  evening 
in  search  of  a  night  harbour0  They  travelled  over  a 
poor  and  desolate  portion  of  northern  Smaland.  But  the 
sort  of  resting-place  they  wanted,  they  should  have  been 
able  to  find;  for  they  were  no  weaklings  who  asked  for  soft 
beds  or  comfortable  rooms.  "  If  one  of  these  long  mountain- 
ridges  had  a  peak  so  high  and  steep  that  a  fox  couldn't  in 
any  way  climb  up  to  it,  then  we  should  have  a  good  sleeping- 
place,"  said  one.  "If  a  single  one  of  the  big  swamps  was 
thawed  out,  and  so  marshy  and  wet  that  a  fox  wouldn't 
dare  venture  out  on  it,  that,  too,  would  be  a  right  good 
night  harbour,"  said  the  second.  "If  the  ice  on  one  of  the 
large  lakes  over  which  we  travel  were  only  loose,  so  that  a 
fox  could  not  come  out  upon  it,  then  we  should  have  found 
just  what  we  are  seeking,"  said  the  third. 

The  worst  of  it  was  that  when  the  sun  went  down  two  of  the 
travellers  became  so  sleepy  that  every  second  they  were 
ready  to  fall  to  the  ground.  The  third,  who  could  keep 
awake,  grew  more  and  more  uneasy  as  night  approached. 
"Then  it  was  a  misfortune  that  we  came  to  a  land  where 
lakes  and  swamps  are  frozen,  so  that  a  fox  can  get  around 
everywhere.  In  other  places  the  ice  has  melted  away;  but 
now  we're  well  up  in  the  very  coldest  Smaland,  where  spring 
has  not  as  yet  arrived.  I  don't  know  how  I  shall  ever 



manage  to  find  a  good  sleeping-place!  Unless  I  find  some 
spot  that  is  well  protected,  Smirre  Fox  will  be  upon  us 
before  morning." 

He  gazed  in  all  directions,  but  saw  no  shelter  where  he 
could  lodge.  It  was  a  dark  and  chilly  night,  with  wind 
and  drizzle.  It  grew  more  terrible  and  disagreeable  around 
him  every  second. 

This  may  sound  strange,  perhaps,  but  the  travellers 
did  not  seem  to  have  the  least  desire  to  ask  for  house-room 
on  any  farm.  They  had  already  passed  many  parishes 
without  knocking  at  a  single  door.  Little  hillside  cabins  on 
the  outskirts  of  the  forest,  which  all  poor  wanderers  are 
glad  to  run  across,  they  took  no  notice  of  either.  One 
might  almost  be  tempted  to  say  they  deserved  to  have  a 
hard  time  of  it,  since  they  did  not  seek  help  where  it  was 
to  be  had  for  the  asking. 

But  finally,  when  it  was  so  dark  that  there  was  scarcely 
a  glimmer  of  light  left  under  the  skies  and  the  two  who 
needed  rest  journeyed  on  in  a  kind  of  half -sleep,  they  hap- 
pened upon  a  farmyard  which  was  far  removed  from  all 
neighbouring  farms.  Not  only  did  it  lie  there  desolate, 
but  it  appeared  to  be  uninhabited  as  well.  No  smoke  rose 
from  the  chimney;  no  light  shone  through  the  windows;  no 
human  being  moved  on  the  place.  When  the  one  who 
could  keep  awake  saw  the  place,  he  thought:  "Now  come 
what  may,  we  must  try  to  get  in  here.  Anything  better 
we  are  not  likely  to  find." 

Soon  after  that,  all  three  stood  in  the  houseyard.  Two 
of  them  fell  asleep  the  instant  they  stood  still,  but  the  third 
looked  about  him  eagerly,  to  find  out  where  they  could  get 
under  cover.  It  was  not  a  small  farm.  Beside  the  dwell- 
ing house  and  stable  and  smokehouse,  there  were  long 


ranges  with  granaries  and  storehouses  and  cattlesheds. 
But  it  all  looked  awfully  poor  and  dilapidated.  The  houses 
had  gray,  moss-grown,  leaning  walls,  which  seemed  ready  to 
topple  over.  In  the  roofs  were  yawning  holes,  and  the 
doors  hung  aslant  on  broken  hinges.  It  was  apparent 
that  here  no  one  had  taken  the  trouble  to  drive  a  nail  into 
a  wall  in  a  long  time. 

Meanwhile,  he  who  was  awake  had  discovered  which  of 
the  houses  was  the  cowshed.  He  roused  his  travelling 
companions  from  their  sleep,  and  conducted  them  to  the 
cowshed  door.  Luckily,  this  was  not  fastened  with  any- 
thing but  a  hasp  which  he  could  easily  push  up  with  a  rod. 
He  heaved  a  sigh  of  relief  at  the  thought  that  they  should 
soon  be  in  safety.  But  as  the  cowshed  door  swung  open 
with  a  sharp  creaking  sound,  he  heard  a  cow  begin  to 
bellow.  "Are  you  coming  at  last,  mistress?"  said  she.  "I 
thought  you  were  not  going  to  give  me  any  supper  to-night." 
The  one  who  was  awake  paused  in  the  doorway,  terror- 
stricken,  when  he  discovered  that  the  cowshed  was  not  empty. 
But  he  soon  saw  that  there  was  only  one  cow  in  the  shed,  and 
three  or  four  chickens;  and  then  he  took  courage  again. 
'We  are  three  poor  travellers  who  want  to  come  in  some- 
where, where  no  fox  can  assail  us,  and  no  human  being 
capture  us,"  said  he.  'We  wonder  if  this  can  be  a  good 
place  for  us."  "I  cannot  believe  but  that  it  is,"  answered 
the  cow.  'To  be  sure  the  walls  are  wretched,  but  the  fox 
does  not  walk  through  them  as  yet;  and  no  one  lives  here 
but  an  old  peasant  woman,  who  isn't  at  all  likely  to  make 
a  captive  of  any  one.  But  who  are  you?"  she  continued, 
as  she  twisted  in  her  stall  to  get  a  sight  of  the  newcomers. 
''I  am  Nils  Holgersson  from  Vemmenhog,  who  has  been 
transformed  into  an  elf,"  replied  the  first  of  the  incomers, 


"and  I  have  with  me  a  tame  goose,  whom  I  usually  ride, 
and  a  gray  goose."  "Such  distinguished  guests  have  never 
before  been  within  my  four  walls,"  said  the  cow,  "and  I  bid 
you  welcome,  although  I  would  have  preferred  that  it  had 
been  my  mistress,  come  to  give  me  my  supper." 

The  boy  led  the  geese  into  the  cowshed,  which  was  rather 
large,  and  placed  them  in  an  empty  manger,  where  they 
fell  asleep  instantly.  For  himself,  he  made  a  little  bed 
of  straw  thinking  that  he,  too,  would  drop  to  sleep  at  once. 

But  this  was  impossible,  for  the  poor  cow,  who  hadn't 
had  her  supper,  wasn't  still  an  instant.  She  shook  her 
flanks,  moved  around  in  the  stall,  complaining  all  the  while 
of  how  hungry  she  was.  The  boy  couldn't  get  a  wink  of 
sleep,  but  lay  there  thinking  over  all  that  had  happened  to 
him  during  these  last  days. 

He  thought  of  Osa,  the  goose-girl,  and  little  Mats,  whom 
he  had  so  unexpectedly  encountered;  and  it  occurred  to  him 
that  the  little  cabin  which  he  had  set  on  fire  must  have  been 
their  old  home  in  Smalaud.  Now  he  remembered  that  he 
had  heard  them  speak  of  just  such  a  cabin,  and  of  the  big 
heather-heath  which  lay  below  it.  They  had  wandered 
back  there  to  see  their  old  home  again,  and  when  they 
arrived,  it  was  in  flames. 

It  was  indeed  a  great  sorrow  that  he  had  brought  upon 
them,  and  it  hurt  him  very  much.  If  he  ever  again  became 
a  human  being,  he  would  try  to  make  up  for  all  this  dam- 
age and  miscalculation. 

Then  his  thoughts  wandered  to  the  crows.  And  when  he 
thought  of  Fumle-Drumle  who  had  saved  his  life,  and  who 
had  met  his  own  death  so  soon  after  having  been  elected 
chieftain,  he  was  so  distressed  that  tears  filled  his  eyes. 

He  had  had  a  pretty  rough  time  of  it  these  last  few  days. 


But  anyhow  it  was  a  rare  stroke  of  luck  that  the  goosey- 
gander  and  Dunfin  had  found  him. 

The  goosey-gander  had  said  that  as  soon  as  the  wild 
geese  discovered  that  Thumbietot  had  disappeared,  they 
had  asked  all  the  small  animals  in  the  forest  about  him. 
They  soon  learned  that  a  flock  of  Smaland  crows  had  car- 
ried him  off.  But  the  crows  were  already  out  of  sight,  and 
whither  they  had  directed  their  course  no  one  had  been  able 
to  say.  That  they  might  find  the  boy  as  soon  as  possible, 
Akka  had  commanded  the  wild  geese  to  start  out  • —  two 
by  two  -  -  in  different  directions,  to  search  for  him.  But 
after  a  two  days'  hunt,  whether  or  not  they  had  found  him, 
they  were  to  meet  in  northwestern  Smaland  on  a  high  moun- 
tain-top, which  resembled  an  abrupt,  chopped-off  tower, 
and  was  called  Taberg.  After  Akka  had  given  them  the 
best  directions,  as  to  how  they  should  reach  Taberg,  they 
had  separated. 

The  white  goosey-gander  had  chosen  Dunfin  as  travel- 
ling companion,  and  they  had  flown  hither  and  thither 
with  the  greatest  anxiety  for  Thumbietot.  During  this 
ramble  they  had  heard  a  thrush,  who  sat  in  a  treetop,  cry 
and  wail  that  some  one  who  called  himself  Kidnapped-by- 
Croivs  had  made  fun  of  him.  They  had  talked  with  the 
thrush,  and  he  had  shown  them  in  which  direction  that 
Kidnapped-by -Crows  had  travelled.  Afterward,  they  had 
met  a  dove-cock,  a  starling,  and  a  drake  who  had  all  wailed 
about  a  little  culprit  that  had  disturbed  their  song,  and 
who  was  named  Caught-by-Crows,  Captured-by-Crows9  and 
Stolen-by -Crows.  In  this  way,  they  were  enabled  to  trace 
Thumbietot  all  the  way  to  the  heather-heath  in  Sonnerbo 

As  soon  as  the  goosey-gander  and  Dunfin  had  found 


Thumbietot,  they  had  flown  northward,  in  order  to  reach 
Taberg.  But  it  had  been  a  long  road  to  travel,  and  the 
darkness  was  upon  them  before  they  had  sighted  the  moun- 
tain-top. "  If  we  only  get  there  by  to-morrow,  surely  all  our 
troubles  will  be  over,"  thought  the  boy,  as  he  dug  down  into 
the  straw  to  have  it  warmer.  All  the  while  the  cow  fussed 
and  fumed  in  the  stall.  Then,  all  of  a  sudden,  she  began  to 
talk  to  the  boy.  "Everything  is  wrong  with  me,"  said  the 
cow.  "I  am  neither  milked  nor  tended.  I  have  no  night 
fodder  in  my  manger,  and  no  bed  has  been  made  under  me. 
My  mistress  came  here  at  dusk,  to  put  things  in  order  for 
me,  but  she  felt  so  ill  that  she  had  to  go  back  to  the  cabin; 
and  she  has  not  returned." 

"It's  distressing  that  I  should  be  little  and  powerless," 
said  the  boy.  "I  don't  believe  that  I  am  able  to  help  you." 
'You  can't  make  me  believe  that  you  are  powerless  be- 
cause you  are  little,"  said  the  cow.  "All  the  elves  that 
I've  ever  heard  of  were  so  strong  that  they  could  pull  a 
whole  load  of  hay,  and  strike  a  cow  dead  with  one  fist." 
The  boy  couldn't  help  laughing  at  the  cow.  'They  were 
a  very  different  kind  of  elf  from  me,"  he  said.  "But  I'll 
loosen  your  halter  and  open  the  door  for  you,  so  that  you 
can  go  out  and  drink  in  one  of  the  pools  on  the  place,  and 
then  I'll  try  to  climb  up  to  the  hayloft  and  throw  some 
hay  down  to  you."  *  Yes,  that  would  be  some  help,"  said 
the  cow. 

The  boy  did  as  he  had  said;  and  when  the  cow  stood  with 
a  full  manger  in  front  of  her,  he  thought  that  at  last  he 
should  get  some  sleep.  But  he  had  hardly  crept  down  into 
the  bed  before  she  began  anew  to  talk  to  him. 

'You'll  be  clean  put  out  with  me  if  I  ask  one  thing  more 
of  you,"  said  the  cow.     "Oh,  no  I  won't,  if  it's  only  some- 


<•>  9  I 

4>      ^f  r- 



thing  that  I'm  able  to  do,"  assured  the  boy.  "Then  I 
shall  ask  you  to  go  into  the  cabin,  directly  opposite,  to  find 
out  how  my  mistress  is  getting  along.  I  fear  some  misfor- 
tune has  come  to  her."  "No!  I  can't  do  that,"  said  the 
boy.  "I  dare  not  show  myself  before  human  beings." 
"Surely  you're  not  afraid  of  an  old  and  sick  woman,"  said 
the  cow.  "But  you  do  not  have  to  go  into  the  cabin. 
Just  stand  outside  the  door  and  peep  through  the  crack!" 
"Oh!  if  that  is  all  you  ask  of  me,  I'll  do  it,  of  course,"  said 
the  boy. 

With  that  he  opened  the  cowshed  door  and  went  out  into 
the  yard.  It  was  a  fearful  night!  Neither  moon  nor  stars 
shone;  the  wind  blew  a  gale,  and  the  rain  came  down  in 
torrents.  And  worst  of  all  was  that  seven  great  owls  sat  in 
a  row  under  the  eaves  of  the  cabin.  It  was  awful  just  to 
hear  them,  where  they  sat  and  grumbled  at  the  weather; 
but  it  was  even  worse  to  think  what  would  happen  to  him 
if  one  of  them  should  set  eyes  on  him.  That  would  be 
the  last  of  him. 

"Pity  him  who  is  little!"  said  the  boy  as  he  ventured 
out.  And  he  had  a  right  to  say  this,  for  he  was  blown 
down  twice  before  he  got  to  the  house :  once  the  wind  swept 
him  into  a  pool  which  was  so  deep  that  he  came  near  drown- 
ing. But  he  got  there  nevertheless. 

He  clambered  up  the  steps,  scrambled  over  the  thresh- 
old, and  came  into  the  hallway.  The  cabin  door  was  closed, 
but  down  in  one  corner  a  large  piece  had  been  cut  away, 
to  let  the  cat  in  and  out.  It  was  no  difficulty  whatever  for 
the  boy  to  see  how  things  were  in  the  cabin. 

He  had  barely  glanced  in  when  he  staggered  back  and 
turned  his  head  away.  An  old  gray-haired  woman  lay 
stretched  on  the  floor  within.  She  neither  moved  nor 


moaned;  and  her  face  shone  strangely  white.  It  was  as  if 
an  invisible  moon  had  cast  a  feeble  light  over  it. 

The  boy  remembered  that  when  his  grandfather  had  died, 
his  face  had  also  become  so  strangely  white-like.  And  he 
understood  that  the  old  woman  who  lay  on  the  cabin  floor 
must  be  dead.  Death  had  probably  come  to  her  so  sud- 
denly that  she  didn't  even  have  time  to  he  down  on  her  bed. 

As  he  thought  of  being  alone  with  the  dead  in  the  middle 
of  the  dark  night,  he  was  terribly  afraid.  He  threw  himself 
headlong  down  the  steps,  and  rushed  back  to  the  cowshed. 

When  he  told  the  cow  of  what  he  had  seen  in  the  cabin, 
she  stopped  eating.  "So  my  mistress  is  dead,"  sighed  she. 
"Then  it  will  soon  be  over  for  me  as  well."  'There  will 
always  be  some  one  to  look  out  for  you,"  said  the  boy  com- 
fortingly. "Ah!  you  don't  know,"  said  the  cow,  "that  I  am 
already  twice  as  old  as  a  cow  usually  is  before  she  is  laid 
upon  the  slaughter-bench.  But  then,  I  do  not  wish  to  live 
any  longer,  since  she,  in  there,  can  come  no  more  to  care 
for  me." 

She  said  nothing  more  for  a  time,  but  the  boy  observed 
that  she  neither  slept  nor  ate.  It  wras  not  long  before  she 
began  to  speak  again.  "Is  she  lying  on  the  bare  floor? ': 
she  asked.  "She  is,"  said  the  boy.  "She  had  a  habit  of 
coming  out  to  the  cowshed,"  she  continued,  "and  talking 
about  everything  that  troubled  her.  I  understood  what 
she  said,  although  I  could  not  answer  her.  The  last  days 
she  talked  of  how  afraid  she  was  that  there  would  be 
no  one  with  her  when  she  died.  She  was  troubled  lest  none 
be  near  to  close  her  eyes  and  fold  her  hands  across  her  breast, 
after  she  was  dead.  Perhaps  you'll  go  in  and  do  this?': 
The  boy  hesitated.  He  remembered  that  when  his  grand- 
father had  died,  mother  had  been  very  careful  about  putting 


everything  to  rights.  He  knew  this  was  something  which 
had  to  be  done.  But,  on  the  other  hand,  he  felt  that  he 
did  not  dare  go  to  the  dead,  in  the  ghastly  night.  He  didn't 
say  no;  nor  did  he  take  a  step  toward  the  cowshed  door. 
For  a  couple  of  seconds  the  old  cow  was  silent,  as  if  waiting 
for  an  answer.  But  when  the  boy  said  nothing,  she  did  not 
repeat  her  request.  Instead,  she  began  to  talk  to  him  of 
her  mistress. 

There  was  much  to  tell,  first  and  foremost,  about  all  the 
children  she  had  brought  up.  They  had  been  in  the  cow- 
shed every  day,  and  in  the  summer  chey  had  taken  the  cattle 
to  pasture  on  the  swamp  and  in  the  groves  so  the  old  cow 
knew  all  about  them.  They  had  been  splendid,  all  of  them, 
and  happy  and  industrious.  A  cow  knew  well  enough  what 
her  caretakers  were  good  for. 

There  was  also  much  to  be  said  about  the  farm.  It  had 
not  always  been  as  poor  as  it  wras  now,  although  the  greater 
part  of  it  consisted  of  swamps  and  stony  groves.  There  was 
not  much  room  left  for  fields,  but  there  was  plenty  of  good 
fodder  everywhere.  At  one  time  there  had  been  a  co\v  for 
every  stall  in  the  cowshed;  and  the  oxshed,  which  was  now 
empty,  had  at  one  time  been  filled  with  oxen.  And  then 
there  was  life  and  gayety,  both  in  cabin  and  cowhouse. 
When  the  mistress  opened  the  cowshed  door  she  always 
hummed  or  sang,  and  all  the  cows  mooed  their  gladness 
when  they  heard  her  coming. 

But  the  good  man  had  died  when  the  children  were  so 
small  that  they  could  be  of  no  assistance,  and  the  mistress 
had  to  take  charge  of  the  farm,  and  all  the  work  and 
responsibility.  She  had  been  as  strong  as  a  man;  and  had 
both  ploughed  and  reaped.  Evenings,  when  she  came  into 
the  cowshed  to  milk,  sometimes  she  was  so  tired  that  she 


wept.  But  when  she  thought  of  her  children  she  dashed 
away  her  tears,  and  was  cheerful  again.  "It  doesn't  mat- 
ter. Good  times  are  coming  again  for  me,  too,  if  only  my 
children  grow  up.  Yes,  if  they  only  grow  up." 

But  as  soon  as  the  children  were  grown,  a  strange  long- 
ing came  over  them.  They  didn't  want  to  stay  at  home,  so 
they  went  away  to  a  strange  country.  Their  mother  never 
got  any  help  from  them.  A  couple  of  her  children  were 
married  before  they  went  away,  and  they  left  their  children 
behind,  in  the  old  home.  And  now  these  children  accom- 
panied the  mistress  to  the  cowshed,  just  as  her  own  had 
done.  They  tended  the  cows,  and  were  fine,  good  folk. 
And  evenings,  when  the  mistress  was  so  tired  out  that  she 
could  have  fallen  asleep  in  the  middle  of  the  milking, 
she  would  arouse  herself  again  to  renewed  courage  by  think- 
ing of  them.  "Good  times  are  coming  for  me,  too,"  said 
she  —  and  shook  off  sleep  —  "when  once  they  are  grown." 

But  when  these  children  grew  up,  they  went  to  their 
parents  in  the  strange  land.  No  one  came  back,  no  one 
stayed  at  home.  The  old  mistress  was  left  alone  on  the 

Probably  she  had  never  asked  them  to  remain  with  her. 
"Think  you,  Redlinna,  that  I  would  ask  them  to  stay  here 
with  me,  when  they  can  go  out  in  the  world  and  have  things 
comfortable?"  she  would  say  as  she  stood  in  the  stall  with 
the  old  cow.  "Here  in  Smaland  they  have  only  poverty 
to  look  forward  to." 

But  when  the  last  grandchild  was  gone,  it  was  all  up  with 
the  mistress.  All  at  once  she  became  bent  and  gray,  and 
tottered  as  she  walked,  as  if  she  no  longer  had  the  strength 
to  move  about.  She  stopped  working.  She  did  not  care 
to  look  after  the  farm,  but  let  everything  go  to  rack  and 


ruin.  She  did  not  repair  the  houses;  and  she  sold  both  cows 
and  oxen.  The  only  one  she  kept  was  the  old  cow  who  now 
talked  with  Thumbietot.  Her  she  let  live  because  all  the 
children  had  tended  her. 

She  could  have  taken  maids  and  farm-hands  into  her 
service,  who  would  have  helped  her  with  the  work,  but  she 
couldn't  bear  to  see  strangers  around  her,  since  her  own 
had  deserted  her.  Perhaps  she  was  better  satisfied  to  let 
the  farm  go  to  ruin,  since  none  of  her  children  were  coming 
back  to  take  charge  of  it  after  she  was  gone.  She  did  not 
mind  being  poor  herself  for  she  didn't  value  that  which 
was  only  hers.  But  she  was  troubled  lest  the  children 
should  find  out  how  hard  she  had  it.  "If  only  the  children 
do  not  hear  of  this !  If  only  the  children  do  not  hear  of 
this!"  she  sighed  as  she  tottered  through  the  cowhouse. 

The  children  wrote  constantly,  and  begged  her  to  come 
to  them;  but  this  she  did  not  wish.  She  didn't  want 
to  see  the  land  that  had  taken  them  from  her.  She  was 
angry  at  it.  "It's  foolish  of  me,  perhaps,  that  I  do  not  like 
that  land  which  has  been  so  good  for  them,"  said  she.  "  But, 
I  don't  want  to  see  it." 

She  thought  only  of  the  children,  and  of  this  —  that 
they  must  needs  have  gone.  When  summer  came,  she  led 
the  cow  out  to  graze  in  the  big  swamp.  All  day  she  would 
sit  at  the  edge  of  the  swamp,  her  hands  in  her  lap;  and  on  the 
way  home  she  would  say:  'You  see,  Redlinna,  if  there 
had  been  large,  rich  fields  here,  in  place  of  these  barren 
swamps,  there  would  have  been  no  need  of  their  leaving." 

She  could  become  furious  with  the  swamp  which  spread 
out  so  big,  and  did  no  good.  She  would  sit  and  talk  of 
how  it  was  the  swamp's  fault  that  the  children  had  left 


The  last  evening  she  had  been  more  trembly  and  feeble 
than  ever.  She  could  not  even  do  the  milking.  She  had 
leaned  against  the  manger  and  talked  about  two  strangers 
who  had  been  to  see  her,  and  who  had  asked  if  they  might 
buy  the  swamp.  They  wanted  to  drain  it,  they  said,  to  raise 
grain  on  it.  This  had  made  her  both  anxious  and  happy. 
"Do  you  hear,  Redlinna,"  she  had  said.  "Do  you  hear 
that  grain  can  grow  on  the  swamp?  Now  I  shall  write  to 
the  children  to  come  home.  They  won't  have  to  stay  away 
any  longer;  for  now  they  can  get  their  bread  here  at  home.'* 
It  was  this  that  she  had  gone  into  the  cabin  to  do 

The  boy  heard  no  more.  He  had  already  opened  the 
door,  crossed  the  yard  and  gone  in  to  the  dead,  of  whom 
he  had  but  lately  been  so  afraid. 

The  cabin  was  not  so  bare  as  he  had  expected.  It  was  well 
supplied  with  the  sort  of  things  one  generally  finds  among 
those  who  have  relatives  in  America.  In  a  corner  there  was 
an  American  rocking  chair;  on  the  table  before  the  window 
lay  a  brocaded  plush  cover;  there  was  a  pretty  spread  on 
the  bed;  on  the  walls,  in  carved-wood  frames,  hung  the 
photographs  of  the  children  and  grandchildren  who  had 
gone  away;  on  the  bureau  stood  high  vases  and  a  couple 
of  candlesticks,  with  thick,  spiral  candles  in  them. 

The  boy  searched  for  a  matchbox  and  lighted  these 
candles,  not  because  he  needed  more  light  than  he  already 
had,  but  because  he  thought  that  this  was  one  way  to 
honour  the  dead. 

Then  he  went  up  to  the  woman,  closed  her  eyes,  folded 
her  hands  across  her  breast,  and  stroked  back  the  thin  gray 
hair  from  her  face. 

He  thought  no  more  about  being  afraid  of  her,  but  he 
was  deeply  grieved  because  she  had  been  forced  to  live  out 


her  old  age  in  loneliness  and  longing.  He,  at  least,  would 
watch  over  her  dead  body  this  night. 

He  hunted  up  the  psalm  book,  and  sat  down  to  read  a 
couple  of  psalms  in  an  undertone.  But  in  the  middle  of  the 
reading  he  paused,  for  he  had  begun  to  think  of  his  mother 
and  father. 

Think,  that  parents  can  long  so  for  their  children!  This 
he  had  never  known.  Think,  that  life  can  be  as  though  it 
were  over  for  them  when  the  children  are  away !  Think,  if 
those  at  home  longed  for  him  in  the  same  way  that  this  old 
peasant  woman  had  longed ! 

This  thought  made  him  happy,  but  he  dared  not  believe 
in  it.  He  had  not  been  the  sort  that  anybody  could  long 

But  what  he  had  not  been,  perhaps  he  might  become. 

Round  about  him  he  saw  the  portraits  of  those  who  were 
away.  They  were  big,  strong  men  and  women  with  earnest 
faces.  There  were  brides  in  long  veils,  and  gentlemen  in 
fine  clothes;  and  there  were  children  with  waved  hair  and 
pretty  white  dresses.  And  he  thought  that  they  all  stared 
blindly  into  vacancy  —  and  did  not  want  to  see. 

"Poor  you!"  said  the  boy  to  the  portraits.  "Your 
mother  is  dead.  You  cannot  make  amends  now  for  your 
leaving  of  her.  But  my  mother  is  living!" 

Here  he  paused,  and  nodded  and  smiled  to  himself. 
"My  mother  is  living,"  said  he.  "Both  father  and  mother 
are  living." 



Friday,  April  fifteenth. 

THE  boy  sat  awake  nearly  all  night,  but  toward  morning 
he  fell  asleep  and  dreamed  of  his  father  and  mother. 
He  could  hardly  recognize  them.  They  had  grown  gray, 
and  had  old  and  wrinkled  faces.  He  asked  how  this  had 
come  about,  and  they  answered  that  they  had  aged  so 
because  they  had  longed  for  him.  He  was  both  touched  and 
astonished,  for  he  had  never  believed  but  that  they  were 
glad  to  be  rid  of  him. 

When  the  boy  awoke  it  was  morning  with  fine,  clear 
weather.  First,  he,  himself,  ate  a  bit  of  the  bread  which  he 
had  found  in  the  cabin;  then  he  gave  the  geese  and  the  cow 
their  breakfast,  and  opened  the  shed  door  so  that  the  cow 
could  go  over  to  the  nearest  farm.  When  the  neighbours 
saw  the  cow  coming  along  all  by  herself  they  would  surely 
understand  that  something  was  wrong  with  her  mistress, 
and  would  hurry  over  to  the  desolate  farm  to  see  how  the 
old  woman  was  getting  along.  They  would  then  find  her 
dead  body  and  bury  it. 

The  boy  and  the  geese  had  barely  risen  into  the  air, 
when  they  caught  a  glimpse  of  a  high  mountain,  with  almost 
perpendicular  walls,  and  an  abrupt,  broken-off  top;  and 
they  knew  then  that  it  was  Taberg.  On  the  summit  stood 
Akka,  with  Yksi  and  Kaksi,  Kolmi  and  Nelja,  Viisi  and 
Kuusi,  and  all  six  goslings  —  waiting  for  them.  There  was 



a  rejoicing,  and  a  cackling,  and  a  fluttering,  and  a  calling, 
which  no  one  can  describe,  when  they  saw  that  the  goosey- 
gander  and  Dunfin  had  succeeded  in  finding  Thumbietot. 

The  woods  grew  rather  high  on  Taberg's  sides,  but  her 
highest  peak  was  barren;  and  from  there  one  could  look 
far  out  in  all  directions.  If  one  gazed  toward  the  east, 
or  south,  or  west,  then  there  was  hardly  anything  to  be 
seen  but  a  poor  highland  with  dark  spruce-trees,  brown 
marshes,  ice-clad  lakes,  and  bluish  mountain-ridges.  The 
boy  couldn't  keep  from  thinking  it  was  true  that  the  one 
who  had  created  this  hadn't  taken  very  great  pains  with  his 
work,  but  had  thrown  it  together  in  a  hurry.  But  if  one 
glanced  to  the  north,  it  was  altogether  different.  Here  it 
looked  as  if  it  had  been  worked  out  with  the  greatest  care 
and  affection.  In  this  direction  one  saw  only  beautiful 
mountains,  soft  valleys,  and  winding  rivers,  all  the  way  to 
the  big  Lake  Vettern  which  lay  ice-free  and  transparently 
clear,  and  shone  as  if  it  were  not  filled  with  water  but  with 
blue  light. 

It  was  Vettern  that  lent  such  wondrous  charm  to  the 
landscape  north  of  Mount  Taberg.  It  was  as  if  a  blue 
ether  had  risen  up  from  the  lake,  and  veiled  the  land. 
Groves  and  hills  and  roofs,  and  the  spires  of  Jonkoping 
City,  which  shimmered  along  Vettern's  shores,  lay  enveloped 
in  pale  blue  that  caressed  the  eye.  If  there  were  countries 
in  heaven,  they,  too,  must  be  blue  like  this,  thought  the 
boy,  believing  that  he  had  got  a  faint  idea  of  how  it  must 
look  in  Paradise. 

Later  in  the  day,  when  the  geese  continued  their  journey, 
they  flew  up  toward  the  blue  valley.  They  were  in  holiday 
humour,  shrieked  and  made  such  a  racket  that  no  one  with 
ears  could  help  hearing  them. 


This  happened  to  be  the  first  really  fine  spring  day  they 
had  had  in  this  section.  Until  now,  the  spring  had  done  its 
work  under  rain  and  bluster;  but  with  the  sudden  appear- 
ance of  fine  weather,  the  people  were  filled  with  such  long- 
ing after  summer  warmth  and  green  woods  that  they  could 
hardly  perform  their  tasks.  And  when  the  wild  geese  flew 
by,  high  above  the  ground,  cheerful  and  free,  all  paused  in 
their  work  to  glance  at  them. 

The  first  to  sight  the  wild  geese  that  day  were  miners  on 
Taberg,  who  were  digging  ore  at  the  mouth  of  the  mine. 
When  they  heard  their  cackle,  they  paused  in  their  drilling 
for  ore,  and  one  called  up  to  the  birds :  "  Where  are  you 
going?  Where  are  you  going?'1  The  geese  didn't  under- 
stand what  he  said,  but  the  boy  leaned  forward  over  the 
goose-back,  and  answered  for  them:  'Where  there  is 
neither  pick  nor  hammer."  When  the  miners  heard  the 
words,  they  thought  it  was  their  own  longing  that  made  the 
goose-cackle  sound  like  human  speech.  'Take  us  along 
with  you!  Take  us  along  with  you!"  they  cried.  "Not 
this  year,"  shrieked  the  boy.  "Not  this  year." 

The  wild  geese  followed  Taber  River  down  toward  Monk 
Lake,  and  all  the  while  they  made  the  same  racket.  Here, 
on  the  narrow  land-strip  between  Monk  and  Vettern  lakes, 
lay  Jonkoping  with  its  great  factories.  First  the  wild 
geese  flew  over  Monk  Lake  paper  mills.  The  noon  rest 
hour  was  just  over,  and  the  big  workmen  were  streaming 
down  to  the  mill-gate.  When  they  heard  the  wild  geese, 
they  stopped  a  moment  to  listen.  'Where  are  you  going? 
Where  are  you  going ?'!  called  the  workmen.  The  wild 
geese  understood  nothing  of  what  they  said,  but  the  boy 
answered  for  them:  Where  there  are  neither  machines  nor 
steam-boxes."  When  the  workmen  heard  the  answer,  they 


believed  it  was  their  own  longing  that  made  the  goose- 
cackle  sound  like  human  speech.  *'  Take  us  along  with  you !" 
"Not  this  year,"  answered  the  boy.  :'Not  this  year." 

Next,  the  geese  flew  over  the  well-known  match  factory, 
which  stands  on  the  shores  of  Vettern — large  as  a  fortress - 
its  high  chimneys  reaching  toward  the  sky.  Not  a  soul 
moved  out  in  the  yards;  but  in  a  large  hall  young  working- 
women  sat  and  filled  match-boxes.  They  had  opened  a 
window,  on  account  of  the  beautiful  weather,  and  through  it 
came  the  wild  geese's  call.  The  one  who  sat  nearest  the 
window  leaned  out  with  a  match-box  in  her  hand,  and 
cried:  'Where  are  you  going?  Where  are  you  going?" 
'To  that  land  where  there  is  no  need  of  either  light  or 
matches,"  said  the  boy.  The  girl  thought  that  what  she 
heard  was  only  goose-cackle;  but  thinking  that  she  had 
distinguished  a  few  words,  she  called  out  in  answer:  "Take 
me  along  with  you!"  "Not  this  year,"  replied  the  boy. 
"Not  this  year." 

East  of  the  factories  lies  Jonkoping,  on  the  most  glorious 
spot  that  a  city  can  occupy.  The  narrow  Vettern  has  high, 
steep  sand-dunes,  both  on  the  eastern  and  on  the  western 
sides;  but  straight  south,  the  sand-walls  are  torn  down, 
as  if  to  make  room  for  a  large  gate,  through  which  one 
reaches  the  lake.  And  in  the  middle  of  the  gate — with  moun- 
tains to  the  left,  and  mountains  to  the  right;  with  Monk 
Lake  behind  it,  and  Vettern  before  it  -  -  lies  Jonkoping. 
The  wild  geese  flew  over  the  long,  narrow  city  and  behaved 
here  just  as  they  had  done  in  the  country.  But  in  the 
city  there  was  no  one  who  answered  them.  It  was  not 
to  be  expected  that  city  folk  would  stop  in  the  streets,  and 
call  to  wild  geese. 

The  trip  extended  farther  along  the  shores  of  Vettern; 


and  after  a  little  they  came  to  Sanna  Sanitarium.  Some  of 
the  patients  were  out  on  the  veranda  enjoying  the  spring 
air,  and  they  too  heard  the  goose-cackle.  'Where  are 
you  going?"  asked  one  in  such  a  feeble  voice  that  he  was 
scarcely  heard.  "To  that  land  where  there  is  neither 
sorrow  nor  sickness,"  answered  the  boy.  'Take  us  along 
with  you!"  said  the  sick  ones.  "Not  this  year,"  answered 
the  boy.  "  Not  this  year. )! 

When  they  had  flown  still  farther  on,  they  came  to  Hus- 
kvarna,  which  lay  in  a  valley.  The  mountains  around  it 
were  steep  and  beautifully  formed.  A  river  rushed  along 
the  heights  in  long  and  narrow  falls.  Big  workshops  and 
factories  lay  below  the  mountain  walls;  and  scattered  along 
the  valley-bottom  were  the  workingmen's  homes,  encircled 
by  little  gardens;  and  in  the  centre  of  the  valley  lay  the 
schoolhouse.  Just  as  the  wild  geese  came  along,  a  bell  rang, 
and  a  crowd  of  school  children  marched  out  in  line.  They 
were  so  numerous  that  the  whole  schoolyard  was  soon  filled 
with  them.  "Where  are  you  going?  Where  are  you 
going?'1  the  children  shouted  when  they  heard  the  wild 
geese.  'Where  there  are  neither  books  nor  lessons  to  be 
found,"  answered  the  boy.  "Take  us  along!"  shrieked 
the  children.  "Not  this  year,  but  next!"  cried  the  boy. 
"Not  this  year,  but  next!" 



ON  THE  eastern  shore  of  Vettern  looms  Mount  Omberg; 
to  the  east  of  Omberg  lies  Dagmosse,  and  just  east  of 
Dagmosse  lies  Lake  Takern.  Around  the  whole  of  Takern 
spreads  the  wide,  even  Ostergota  plain. 

Takern  is  quite  a  large  lake  and  in  olden  times  it  must 
have  been  larger  still.  But  then  the  people  thought  it 
covered  entirely  too  much  of  the  fertile  plain,  so  they 
attempted  to  drain  the  water  from  it,  that  they  might  sow 
and  reap  on  the  lake-bottom.  But  they  did  not  succeed 
in  laying  waste  the  entire  lake  —  which  was  evidently 
their  intention  —  therefore  it  still  hides  a  lot  of  land. 
Since  the  draining,  the  lake  has  become  so  shallow  that 
K?rdly  at  any  point  is  it  more  than  a  fathom  deep.  The 
shores  have  become  marshy  and  muddy;  and  out  in  the 
lake  little  mud-islets  stick  up  above  the  water's  sur- 

Now,  there  is  one  that  loves  to  stand  with  feet  in  the 
water,  if  only  the  body  and  head  are  in  the  air,  and  that  is 
the  reed.  And  it  cannot  find  a  better  place  to  grow  upon 
than  the  long,  shallow  Takern  shores,  and  around  the  little 
mud-islets.  It  thrives  so  well  that  it  grows  taller  than  a 
man's  height,  and  so  thick  that  it  is  almost  impossible  to 
push  a  boat  through  it.  It  forms  a  broad  green  enclosure 



around  the  whole  lake,  so  that  it  is  accessible  only  in  a  few 
places,  where  the  people  have  taken  away  the  reeds. 

But  if  the  reeds  shut  the  people  out,  they  give,  in  return, 
shelter  and  protection  to  many  other  creatures.  For  in 
the  reeds  there  are  a  lot  of  little  dams  and  canals  with  green, 
still  water,  where  duckweed  and  pond  weed  run  to  seed;  and 
where  gnat-eggs  and  blackfish  and  worms  are  hatched  out  in 
uncountable  masses.  And  all  along  the  shores  of  these  little 
dams  and  canals,  there  are  many  well-secluded  places 
where  seabirds  hatch  their  eggs,  and  bring  up  their  young 
without  being  troubled  by  enemies  or  food  worries. 

An  incredible  number  of  birds  live  in  the  Takern  reeds; 
and  more  and  more  gather  there  every  year,  as  they  come 
to  know  what  a  splendid  abode  it  is.  The  first  who  settled 
there  were  the  wild  ducks,  who  still  live  there  by  the 
thousands.  But  they  no  longer  own  the  entire  lake,  for 
they  have  been  obliged  to  share  it  with  swans,  grebes,  coots, 
loons,  fen-ducks,  and  a  lot  of  others. 

Takern  is  certainly  the  largest  and  choicest  bird  lake  in 
the  whole  country;  and  the  birds  may  count  themselves 
lucky  so  long  as  they  own  such  a  retreat.  But  it  is  uncer- 
tain as  to  how  long  they  will  be  in  control  of  reeds  and  mud- 
banks,  for  human  beings  cannot  forget  that  the  lake  extends 
over  a  considerable  portion  of  good  and  fertile  soil;  and  every 
little  while  the  proposition  to  drain  it  comes  up  among  them. 
And  if  these  proposals  were  carried  out,  many  thousands  of 
water-birds  would  be  forced  to  move  from  these  quarters. 

At  the  time  that  Nils  Holgersson  travelled  around  with 
the  wild  geese,  there  lived  at  Takern  a  wild  duck  named 
Jarro.  He  was  a  young  bird,  who  had  only  lived  one 
summer,  one  fall,  and  a  winter;  now,  it  was  his  first  spring. 
He  had  just  returned  from  North  Africa,  having  reached 
Takern  in  such  good  season  that  the  ice  was^till  on  the  lake. 


One  evening,  while  he  and  the  other  young  wild  ducks 
were  having  the  best  fun,  racing  back  and  forth  over 
the  lake,  a  hunter  shot  at  them,  and  Jarro  was  wounded 
in  the  breast.  He  thought  he  would  surely  die;  but  in 
order  that  the  one  who  had  shot  him  shouldn't  get  him 
into  his  power,  he  continued  to  fly  as  long  as  he  could. 
He  didn't  think  whither  he  was  directing  his  course,  but 
only  struggled  to  get  far  away.  When  his  strength  failed 
him,  so  that  he  could  not  fly  any  farther,  he  was  no  longer 
on  the  lake.  He  had  flown  a  short  distance  inland,  when 
he  sank  down,  exhausted,  before  the  entrance  to  one  of  the 
big  farms  which  lie  along  the  shores  of  Takern. 

A  moment  later,  a  young  farm-hand  happened  along. 
He  saw  Jarro,  and  came  and  lifted  him  up.  But  Jarro, 
who  asked  for  nothing  but  to  be  let  die  in  peace,  gathered 
his  weaning  powers  and  nipped  the  farm-hand  in  the  finger, 
so  he  should  let  go  of  him. 

Jarro  could  not  free  himself.  The  encounter  had  this 
good  in  it  at  any  rate;  the  farm-hand  noticed  that  the 
bird  was  alive.  He  carried  him  very  gently  into  the 
cottage,  and  showed  him  to  the  mistress  of  the  house  — 
a  young  woman  with  a  kindly  face.  At  once  she  took  Jarro 
from  the  farm-hand,  stroked  him  on  the  back,  and  wiped 
away  the  blood  that  trickled  down  through  the  neck- 
feathers.  She  looked  him  over  very  carefully;  and  when 
she  saw  how  pretty  he  was,  wTith  his  dark  green,  shining 
head,  his  white  neck-band,  his  brownish-red  back,  and  his 
blue  wing-mirror,  she  probably  thought  it  would  be  a  pity 
for  him  to  die.  She  promptly  put  a  basket  in  order,  and 
tucked  the  bird  into  it. 

All  the  while  Jarro  fluttered  and  struggled  to  get  loose; 
but  when  he  understood  that  the  people  had  no  thought  of 


killing  him,  he  settled  down  in  the  basket  with  a  sense  of 
comfort.  Now  it  was  evident  how  exhausted  he  had  become 
from  pain  and  loss  of  blood.  The  mistress  carried  the 
basket  across  the  floor  to  place  it  in  the  corner,  by  the 
fireplace;  but  before  she  put  it  down  Jarro  was  already 
fast  asleep. 

In  a  little  while  Jarro  was  awakened  by  some  one  nudging 
him  gently.  When  he  opened  his  eyes  he  experienced  such 
an  awful  shock  that  he  almost  lost  his  senses.  Now  he  was 
surely  lost !  for  there  stood  the  one  who  was  more  dangerous 
than  either  human  beings  or  birds  of  prey.  It  was  no  one 
less  than  Csesar  himself !  —  the  long-haired  dog  that  nosed 
him  inquisitively. 

How  pitifully  scared  had  he  not  been  the  summer  before, 
when  he  was  still  a  little  yellow-down  duckling,  every  time 
he  had  heard  the  warning  call:  ''Caesar  is  coming!  Csesar 
is  coming!"  Whenever  he  had  seen  the  brown  and  white 
spotted  dog  with  the  teeth -filled  jowls  come  wading  through 
the  reeds,  he  believed  that  he  had  beheld  death  itself. 
He  had  always  hoped  that  he  would  never  have  to  h've 
through  that  moment  when  he  should  meet  Caesar  face  to 

But,  to  his  sorrow,  he  must  have  fallen  down  in  the 
very  yard  where  Csesar  lived,  for  there  he  stood  right 
over  him.  "Who  are  you?"  he  growled.  "How  did  you 
get  into  the  house?  Don't  you  belong  down  among  the 
reed  banks?'' 

It  was  with  great  difficulty  that  he  gained  the  courage  to 
speak.  "Don't  be  angry  with  me,  Csesar,  because  I  came 
into  the  house!"  he  pleaded.  "It  isn't  my  fault.  I  have 
been  wounded  by  a  gunshot.  It  was  the  mistress  herself 
who  laid  me  in  this  basket. ' 


"  Oho !  so  it  was  the  house-folk  themselves  that  placed  you 
here,"  said  Caesar.  "Then  it  is  surely  their  intention  to 
cure  you;  though  for  my  part,  I  think  it  would  be  more 
sensible  for  them  to  eat  you,  since  you  are  in  their  power. 
But,  at  all  events,  you  are  safe  in  the  house.  You  needn't 
look  so  scared.  Now,  we're  not  down  on  Takern. ': 

With  that  Caesar  stretched  himself  full  length  before 
the  blazing  log-fire,  to  sleep.  As  soon  as  Jarro  understood 
that  this  terrible  danger  was  past,  extreme  lassitude  crept 
upon  him,  and  he  fell  asleep  anew. 

The  next  time  Jarro  awoke,  he  saw  that  a  dish  with  grain 
and  water  stood  before  him.  He  was  still  quite  ill,  but  he 
felt  hungry  nevertheless,  and  began  to  eat.  When  the 
mistress  saw  that  he  ate,  she  came  over  and  petted  him,  and 
looked  pleased.  After  that,  Jarro  fell  asleep  again.  For 
several  days  he  did  nothing  but  eat  and  sleep. 

One  bright  morning  Jarro  felt  so  well  that  he  stepped 
from  the  basket  and  wandered  along  the  floor.  But  he 
hadn't  gone  very  far  before  he  keeled  over,  and  lay  there. 
Then  along  came  Caesar,  who  opened  his  big  jaws  and 
grabbed  him.  Jarro  believed,  of  course,  that  the  dog  was 
going  to  bite  him  to  death ;  but  Caesar  carried  him  back  to 
the  basket  without  harming  him.  Because  of  that  Jarro 
had  such  confidence  in  the  dog,  Caesar,  that  on  his  next  walk 
in  the  cottage,  he  went  over  to  the  dog  and  laid  down  beside 
him.  Thus  Caesar  and  he  became  good  friends,  and  every 
day,  for  several  hours,  Jarro  lay  and  slept  between  Caesar's 

But  an  even  greater  affection  than  he  had  for  Caesar, 
did  Jarro  feel  toward  his  mistress.  Of  her  he  had  not  the 
least  fear;  but  rubbed  his  head  against  her  hand  when  she 
brought  him  his  food.  Whenever  she  went  out  from  the 


cottage  he  sighed  with  regret;  and  when  she  came  back  he 
cried  welcome  to  her  in  his  own  language. 

Jarro  forgot  entirely  how  afraid  he  had  been  of  both  dogs 
and  humans  in  other  days.  He  thought  now  that  they 
were  gentle  and  kind,  and  he  loved  them.  He  wished  that 
he  were  well,  so  he  could  fly  down  to  Takern  to  tell  the  wild 
ducks  that  their  enemies  were  not  dangerous,  and  that  they 
need  not  fear  them. 

He  had  observed  that  the  human  beings,  as  well  as  Caesar, 
had  calm  eyes,  which  it  did  one  good  to  look  into.  Claw- 
ina,  the  house  cat,  was  the  only  one  in  the  cottage  whose 
glance  he  did  not  care  to  meet.  She  did  him  no  harm 
either,  but  he  couldn't  place  any  confidence  in  her.  Then, 
too,  she  quarrelled  with  him  constantly,  because  he  loved 
human  beings.  'You  think  they  protect  you  because 
they  are  fond  of  you,"  said  Clawina.  'You  just  wait  until 
you  are  fat  enough!  Then  they'll  wring  the  neck  off  you. 
I  know  them,  I  do. " 

Jarro,  like  all  birds,  had  a  tender  and  affectionate  heart; 
and  he  was  unutterably  distressed  when  he  heard  this. 
He  couldn't  imagine  that  his  mistress  would  wish  to  wring 
the  neck  off  him,  nor  could  he  believe  any  such  thing  of  her 
son,  the  little  boy  who  sat  for  hours  beside  his  basket,  and 
babbled  and  chattered.  He  seemed  to  think  that  they  had 
the  same  love  for  him  that  he  had  for  them. 

One  day,  while  Jarro  and  Caesar  lay  on  their  usual  spot  be- 
fore the  fire,  Clawina  sat  on  the  hearth  and  began  to  tease 
the  wild  duck. 

"I  wonder,  Jarro,  what  you  wild  ducks  will  do  next 
year,  when  Takern  is  drained  and  turned  into  grain-fields?'1 
said  Clawina.  "What's  that  you  say,  Clawina  ? '  cried 
Jarro,  and  jumped  up  —  scared  through  and  through.  "I 


always  forget,  Jarro,  that  you  do  not  understand  human 
speech,  like  Caesar  and  myself ,"  purred  the  cat.  "Other- 
wise you  surely  would  have  heard  the  men  who  were 
here  yesterday  say  that  all  the  water  was  to  be  drained 
from  Takern,  and  that  next  year  the  lake-bottom  would 
be  as  dry  as  a  house-floor.  And  now  I  wonder  where 
you  wild  ducks  will  go."  While  Jarro  listened  to  this 
talk  he  became  so  furious  that  he  hissed  like  a  snake.  *  You 
are  just  as  mean  as  a  common  coot!"  he  screamed  at 
Clawina.  "You  only  want  to  incite  me  against  human 
beings.  I  don't  believe  they  want  to  do  anything  of 
the  sort.  They  must  know  that  Takern  is  the  wild 
ducks'  property.  Why  should  they  make  so  many  birds 
homeless  and  unhappy?  You  have  certainly  hit  upon  all 
this  to  scare  me.  I  hope  that  you  may  be  torn  in  pieces  by 
Gorgo,  the  eagle!  I  hope  that  my  mistress  will  chop  off 
your  whiskers!" 

But  Jarro  couldn't  shut  Clawina  up  with  this  outburst. 
"So  you  think  I'm  lying,"  said  she.  "Ask  Caesar,  then! 
He  was  also  in  the  house  last  night.  Caesar  never  lies. J! 

"Caesar,"  said  Jarro,  "you  understand  human  speech 
much  better  than  Clawina.  Say  that  she  hasn't  heard 
aright!  Think  how  it  would  be  if  the  people  were  to  drain 
Takern,  and  change  the  lake-bottom  into  fields!  Then 
there  would  be  no  more  pondweed  or  duck-food  for  the 
grown  wild  ducks,  and  no  blackfish  or  worms  or  gnat- 
eggs  for  the  ducklings.  Then  the  reed-banks  would  dis- 
appear —  where  now  the  ducklings  conceal  themselves 
until  they  are  able  to  fly.  All  ducks  would  be  compelled 
to  move  away  from  here,  and  seek  another  home.  But 
where  shall  they  find  a  retreat  like  Takern?  Caesar,  say 
that  Clawina  has  not  heard  aright!" 


It  was  wonderful  to  watch  Caesar's  behaviour  during 
this  altercation.  He  had  been  wide-awake  the  whole  time 
before,  but  now,  when  Jarro  turned  to  him,  he  panted,  laid 
his  long  nose  on  his  fore-paws,  and  was  sound  asleep  within 
the  wink  of  an  eyelid. 

The  cat  looked  down  at  Caesar  with  a  knowing  smile. 
"I  believe  that  Csesar  doesn't  care  to  answer  you,"  she 
said  to  Jarro.  "It  is  with  him  as  with  all  dogs;  they  will 
never  admit  that  humans  can  do  any  wrong.  But  you  can 
rely  upon  my  word,  at  any  rate.  I  shall  tell  you  why  they 
wish  to  drain  the  lake  just  now.  So  long  as  you  wild  ducks 
were  still  in  power  on  Takern  they  did  not  wish  to  drain  it, 
for  then  they  got  some  good  out  of  you;  but  now 
that  grebes  and  coots,  and  other  birds  who  are  useless  as 
food,  have  infested  nearly  all  the  reed-banks,  the  people 
think  it  needless  to  let  the  lake  remain  on  their  account. ': 

Jarro  didn't  trouble  himself  to  answer  Clawina,  but 
raised  his  head  and  shouted  in  Caesar's  ear:  "Caesar! 
You  know  that  on  Takern  there  are  still  so  many  ducks  left 
that  they  fill  the  air  like  clouds.  Say  it  isn't  true  that  hu- 
man beings  intend  to  make  all  of  these  homeless!" 

Then  Caesar  sprang  up  with  such  a  sudden  outburst  at 
Clawina  that  she  had  to  save  herself  by  jumping  upon  a 
shelf.  "I'll  teach  you  to  keep  quiet  when  I  want  to  sleep, '' 
growled  Caesar.  "Of  course  I  know  that  there  is  some 
talk  of  draining  the  lake  this  year.  But  there  has  been 
talk  of  this  many  times  before  without  anything  coming  of 
it.  And  that  draining  business  is  a  matter  in  which  I 
take  no  stock  whatsoever.  For  how  would  it  go  with  the 
game  if  Takern  were  laid  waste.  You're  a  donkey  to  gloat 
over  a  thing  like  that.  What  will  you  and  I  have  to  amuse 
ourselves  with,  when  there  are  no  more  birds  on  Takern?  " 



Sunday,  April  seventeenth, 

JARRO  was  so  well  now  that  he  could  fly  all  about  the 
house.  He  was  petted  a  good  deal  by  the  mistress,  and 
her  little  boy  ran  out  into  the  yard  and  plucked  for  him  the 
first  spring  grass-blades.  When  the  mistress  caressed  him, 
Jarro  thought  that,  although  he  was  so  strong  now  that  he 
could  fly  down  to  Takern  at  any  time,  he  shouldn't  care  to 
be  separated  from  human  beings.  He  had  no  objection  to 
remaining  with  them  all  his  life. 

But  early  one  morning  the  mistress  placed  a  halter,  or 
noose,  over  Jarro,  which  prevented  him  from  using  his 
wings;  then  she  turned  him  over  to  the  farm-hand  who  had 
found  him  in  the  yard.  The  farm-hand  poked  him  under 
his  arm,  and  went  down  to  Takern  with  him. 

The  ice  had  melted  during  Jarro's  illness.  The  old,  dry 
fall  leaves  still  lay  scattered  along  the  shores  and  islets,  but 
all  the  water-weeds  had  begun  to  take  root  down  in  the 
deep;  and  the  green  stems  had  already  reached  the  surface. 
And  now  nearly  all  the  birds  of  passage  were  at  home. 
The  curlews'  hooked  bills  peeped  out  from  the  reeds.  The 
grebes  glided  about  with  new  feather-collars  around  their 
necks;  and  the  jacksnipe  were  gathering  straws  for  their 

The  farm-hand  got  into  a  scow,  laid  Jarro  in  the  bottom 
of  the  boat,  and  began  to  pole  out.  Jarro,  who  had  now 
accustomed  himself  to  expect  only  good  of  human  beings, 
said  to  Caesar,  who  was  also  of  the  party,  that  he  felt  very 
grateful  toward  the  farm-hand  for  taking  him  out  on  the 
lake.  But  the  man  needn't  keep  him  so  tightly  fet- 
tered for  he  was  not  thinking  of  flying  away.  To  this 


Cuesar  made  no  reply.  He  was  very  close-mouthed  that 

The  only  thing  which  struck  Jarro  as  being  a  bit  strange 
was  that  the  farm-hand  had  taken  his  gun  along.  He 
couldn't  believe  that  any  of  the  good  folk  in  the  cottage 
would  want  to  shoot  at  birds.  And,  besides,  Csesar  had  told 
him  that  the  people  didn't  hunt  at  this  time  of  the  year. 
"It  is  a  prohibited  time,"  he  had  said,  "although  this 
doesn't  concern  me,  of  course. " 

The  farm-hand  rowed  over  to  one  of  the  little  reed-enclosed 
mud-islets.  There  he  stepped  from  the  boat,  gathered 
some  old  reeds  into  a  pile,  and  laid  down  behind  it.  Jarro 
was  free  to  wander  around  on  the  ground  with  the  halter 
over  his  wings,  and  tethered  to  the  boat  with  a  long  string. 

Suddenly  Jarro  caught  sight  of  some  young  ducks  and 
drakes,  in  whose  company  he  had  formerly  raced  back  and 
forth  over  the  lake.  They  were  a  long  way  off,  but  Jarro 
called  them  to  him  with  loud  shouts.  They  responded, 
and  a  large  and  beautiful  flock  approached.  Even  before 
they  were  there,  Jarro  began  to  tell  them  about  his  marvel- 
lous rescue,  and  of  the  kindness  of  human  beings.  Just 
then,  bang  went  two  shots  behind  him,  and  three  ducks 
sank  down  in  the  reeds  —  lifeless.  Caesar  bounded  out  and 
captured  them. 

Then  Jarro  understood.  The  human  beings  had  saved 
him  only  that  they  might  use  him  as  a  decoy-duck.  And 
they  had  also  succeeded.  Three  ducks  had  been  killed  on 
his  account.  He  thought  he  should  die  of  shame.  He 
fancied  that  even  his  friend  Caesar  looked  contemptuously 
at  him;  and  when  they  got  back  to  the  cottage,  he  didn't 
dare  lie  down  and  sleep  beside  the  dog. 

The  next  morning  Jarro  was    again  taken  out  to  the 


shallows.  This  time,  also,  he  sighted  some  ducks.  But 
when  he  observed  that  they  flew  toward  him,  he  called  to 
them:  "Away!  Away!  Be  careful!  Fly  in  another 
direction!  There's  a  hunter  hidden  behind  the  reed-pile. 
I'm  only  a  decoy-bird!"  And  he  actually  succeeded  in 
preventing  their  coming  within  shooting  distance. 

Jarro  hardly  had  time  to  taste  of  a  grass-blade,  so  busy 
was  he  keeping  watch.  He  called  out  his  warning  as  soon 
as  a  bird  drew  nigh.  He  even  warned  the  grebes,  although 
he  detested  them  because  they  crowded  the  ducks  out  of 
their  best  hiding-places.  But  he  did  not  wish  that  any  bird 
should  meet  with  misfortune  on  his  account.  And,  thanks 
to  Jarro's  vigilance,  the  farm-hand  had  to  go  home  without 
firing  a  single  shot. 

All  the  same,  Caesar  looked  less  displeased  than  on  the 
previous  day;  and  when  the  evening  was  come  he  took  Jarro 
in  his  mouth,  carried  him  over  to  the  fireplace,  and  let  him 
sleep  between  his  fore-paws. 

Nevertheless,  Jarro  was  no  longer  contented  in  the  cot- 
tage, but  was  grievously  unhappy.  His  heart  suffered  at 
the  thought  that  humans  never  had  loved  him.  When 
the  mistress  or  the  little  boy  came  forward  to  caress  him, 
he  stuck  his  bill  under  his  wing  and  pretended  that  he  slept. 

For  several  days  Jarro  continued  his  distressful  watch- 
service;  and  he  was  already  known  over  the  whole  lake. 
Then  it  happened  one  morning,  while  he  called  out  as  usual : 
"Have  a  care,  birds!  Don't  come  near  me!  I'm  only  a 
decoy-duck,"  that  a  grebe-nest  came  floating  toward  the 
shallows  where  he  was  tied.  There  was  nothing  extraor- 
dinary about  this.  It  was  a  nest  from  the  year  before;  and 
since  grebe-nests  are  built  in  such  a  way  that  they  can 
move  on  water  like  boats,  it  often  happens  that  they  drift 


out  on  the  lake.  Yet  Jarro  stood  there  gazing  toward 
nest,  which  was  headed  so  straight  for  the  islet  that  it 
appeared  as  if  some  one  were  steering  its  course  over  the 

As  the  nest  came  nearer,  Jarro  saw  that  a  little  human 
being  —  the  tiniest  he  had  ever  seen  —  sat  in  the  nest  and 
rowed  forward  with  a  pair  of  sticks.  And  this  little  human 
called  to  him:  "Go  as  near  the  water  as  you  can,  Jarro, 
and  be  ready  to  fly.  You  shall  soon  be  freed. 91 

A  few  seconds  later  the  grebe-nest  lay  near  land,  yet  the 
little  oarsman  did  not  leave  it,  but  sat  huddled  between 
branches  and  straw.  Jarro,  too,  held  himself  almost  rigid. 
He  was  actually  paralyzed  with  fear  lest  the  rescuer  should 
be  discovered. 

And  next  a  flock  of  wild  geese  came  flying  over.  Then 
Jarro  woke  up  to  business,  and  warned  them  with  loud 
shrieks;  but  in  spite  of  this  they  flew  back  and  forth  over  the 
shallows  several  times.  They  held  themselves  so  high  that 
they  were  beyond  shooting  distance;  still  the  farm-hand  let 
himself  be  tempted  to  shoot  at  them.  These  shots  were 
hardly  fired  when  the  little  creature  ran  up  on  land, 
drew  a  tiny  knife  from  its  sheath,  and,  with  two  quick 
strokes,  cut  loose  Jarro's  halter.  "Now  fly  away,  Jarro, 
before  the  man  has  time  to  load  again!"  cried  he,  while  he 
himself  ran  down  to  the  grebe-nest  and  poled  away  from  the 

The  hunter's  gaze  was  fixed  upon  the  geese,  and  he 
hadn't  noticed  that  Jarro  had  been  freed;  but  Caesar  knew 
what  had  happened;  and  just  as  Jarro  lifted  his  wings,  he 
dashed  forward  and  grabbed  him  by  the  neck. 

Jarro  cried  pitifully;  and  the  boy  who  had  freed  him  said 
quietly  to  Csesar:  "If  you  are  just  as  honourable  as  you 


look,  surely  you  cannot  wish  to  force  a  good  bird  to  sit  here 
and  entice  others  into  trouble. " 

When  Caesar  heard  these  words,  he  grinned  viciously  with 
his  upper  lip,  but  the  next  second  he  dropped  Jarro.  'Fly, 
Jarro!"  said  he.  'You  are  certainly  too  good  to  be  a 
decoy-duck.  It  wasn't  for  this  that  I  wanted  to  keep  you 
here;  but  because  it  will  be  lonely  in  the  cottage  without  you. 


Wednesday,  April  twentieth. 

IT  WAS  indeed  very  lonely  in  the  cottage  without  Jarro. 
The  dog  and  the  cat  found  the  time  long,  when  they  didn't 
have  him  to  wrangle  over;  and  the  housewife  missed  the 
glad  quacking  with  which  he  had  welcomed  her  every  time 
she  entered  the  house.  But  the  one  who  longed  most  for 
Jarro  was  the  little  boy,  Per  Ola.  He  was  but  three  years 
old,  and  the  only  child;  and  in  all  his  life  he  had  never  had 
a  playmate  like  Jarro.  When  he  heard  that  Jarro  had  gone 
back  to  Takern  and  the  wild  ducks,  he  couldn't  be  recon- 
ciled to  this,  but  thought  constantly  of  how  he  should  get 
him  back  again. 

Per  Ola  had  talked  a  good  deal  with  Jarro,  while  he  lay 
in  his  basket,  and  he  was  certain  that  the  duck  had  under- 
stood him.  He  begged  his  mother  to  take  him  down  to  the 
lake  that  he  might  find  Jarro,  and  persuade  him  to  come 
back  to  them.  Mother  wouldn't  listen  to  this;  but  the 
little  one  didn't  give  up  his  plan  for  all  that. 

The  day  after  Jarro  had  disappeared,  Per  Ola  was  run- 
ning about  in  the  yard.  He  played  by  himself,  as  usual, 
while  Caesar  lay  on  the  stoop ;  and  when  mother  let  the  boy 
out,  she  said :  "Take  good  care  of  Per  Ola,  Ciesar ! " 


Now  if  all  had  been  as  usual,  Csesar  would  have  obeyed 
the  command,  and  the  boy  would  have  been  so  well 
guarded  that  he  couldn't  have  run  the  least  risk.  But 
Caesar  was  not  himself  these  days.  He  knew  that  the 
farmers  who  lived  around  Takern  had  held  frequent  con- 
ferences about  the  lowering  of  the  lake;  and  that  the 
matter  was  almost  settled.  The  ducks  must  leave  and 
Caesar  would  nevermore  behold  a  glorious  chase.  He  was 
so  preoccupied  with  the  thought  of  this  misfortune,  that  he 
did  not  remember  to  watch  over  Per  Ola. 

The  little  one  had  scarcely  been  alone  in  the  yard  a  minute, 
before  he  realized  that  now  the  right  moment  was  come  to 
go  down  to  Takern  and  talk  with  Jarro.  He  opened  the 
gate,  and  wandered  down  toward  the  lake  on  the  narrow 
path  which  ran  along  the  banks.  As  long  as  he  could  be 
seen  from  the  house,  he  walked  slowly;  but  afterward  he 
quickened  his  stride.  He  was  very  much  afraid  that  mother, 
or  some  one  else,  should  call  out  to  him  that  he  couldn't  go. 
He  didn't  wish  to  do  anything  naughty,  only  to  persuade 
Jarro  to  come  home ;  but  he  felt  that  the  folks  at  home  would 
not  have  approved  of  the  undertaking. 

When  Per  Ola  came  down  to  the  shore,  he  called  Jarro 
many  times.  Thereupon  he  stood  a  long  while  and 
waited,  but  no  Jarro  appeared.  He  saw  several  birds  that 
resembled  the  wild  duck,  but  they  flew  by  without  noticing 
him,  and  he  could  understand  that  none  among  them  was 
the  right  one. 

When  Jarro  didn't  come  to  him,  the  little  boy  thought 
that  it  would  be  easier  to  find  him  were  he  to  go  out  on  the 
lake.  There  were  several  good  craft  lying  along  the  shore, 
but  these  were  tied.  The  one  that  lay  loose,  and  at  liberty, 
was  an  old  leaky  scow  which  was  so  unfit  that  no  one  thought 


of  using  it.  But  Per  Ola  scrambled  into  it  not  caring  that 
the  whole  bottom  was  filled  with  water.  He  had  not  strength 
enough  to  use  the  oars,  but,  instead,  sat  down  and  began  to 
rock  the  scow.  Certainly  no  grown  person  would  have 
succeeded  in  moving  a  boat  out  on  Takern  in  that  manner; 
but  when  the  tide  is  high  and  ill-luck  to  the  fore,  little 
children  have  a  marvellous  faculty  for  getting  out  to  sea. 
Per  Ola  was  soon  drifting  around  on  Takern,  calling  for  Jarro. 

While  the  old  scow  was  being  rocked  like  this,  out  to  sea, 
the  cracks  opened  wider  and  wider,  and  the  water  actually 
streamed  into  it.  Per  Ola  didn't  pay  the  slightest  attention 
to  this.  He  sat  upon  the  little  bench  in  front  and  called 
to  every  bird  he  saw,  and  wondered  why  Jarro  didn't  appear. 

At  last  Jarro  caught  sight  of  Per  Ola.  He  heard  that 
some  one  called  him  by  the  name  which  he  had  borne  among 
human  beings,  and  he  understood  that  the  boy  had  gone  out 
on  Takern  to  search  for  him.  Jarro  was  unspeakably  happy 
to  find  that  one  of  the  humans  really  loved  him.  He  shot 
down  toward  Per  Ola  like  an  arrow,  seated  himself  beside 
him,  and  let  him  caress  him.  They  were  very  happy  to 
see  each  other  again.  But  suddenly  Jarro  noticed  the 
condition  of  the  scow.  It  was  half  filled  with  water,  and 
almost  ready  to  sink.  Jarro  tried  to  tell  Per  Ola  that  he, 
who  could  neither  fly  nor  swim,  must  try  to  get  upon  land; 
but  Per  Ola  didn't  understand  him.  Then  Jarro  did  not 
wait  an  instant,  but  hurried  away  to  get  help. 

In  a  little*  while  he  returned,  carrying  on  his  back  a 
tiny  creature  who  was  much  smaller  than  Per  Ola  himself. 
Had  he  not  been  able  to  talk  and  move,  the  boy  would  have 
believed  that  it  was  a  doll.  Instantly,  the  little  one  ordered 
Per  Ola  to  pick  up  a  long,  slender  pole  that  lay  in  the  bottom 
of  the  scow,  and  try  to  paddle  toward  one  of  the  reed- 


islands.  Per  Ola  obeyed  him,  and  he  and  the  tiny  creature 
together  steered  the  scow.  With  a  couple  of  strokes  they 
were  over  by  little  reed-encircled  island,  and  now  Per  Ola 
was  told  that  he  must  step  ashore.  And  just  the  very  mo- 
ment that  Per  Ola  set  foot  on  land,  the  scow  filled  up  with 
water  and  sank  to  the  bottom. 

When  Per  Ola  saw  this  he  was  sure  that  his  father  and 
mother  would  be  very  angry  with  him.  He  would  have 
started  in  to  cry  if  he  hadn't  just  then  found  something 
else  to  think  of:  A  flock  of  big,  gray  birds  suddenly 
lighted  on  the  island.  The  little  midget  took  him  over  to 
them,  and  told  him  their  names,  and  what  they  said.  And 
this  was  so  funny  that  Per  Ola  forgot  everything  else. 

Meanwhile  the  folks  on  the  farm  had  discovered  that  the 
boy  was  missing,  and  were  searching  for  him.  They  searched 
the  outhouses,  looked  in  the  well,  and  hunted  through  the 
cellar.  Then  they  went  out  into  highways  and  by -paths; 
wandered  to  the  neighbouring  farm  to  find  out  if  he  had 
strayed  over  there,  and  they  searched  for  him  also  down  by 
Takern.  But  no  matter  where  they  sought  they  did  not 
find  him. 

The  dog  Caesar  understood  very  well  that  the  farmer- 
folk  were  looking  for  Per  Ola,  but  he  did  nothing  to  put 
them  on  the  right  track;  instead  he  lay  still,  as  if  the  matter 
didn't  concern  him. 

Later  in  the  day,  Per  Ola's  footprints  were  discovered 
down  by  the  boat-landing.  Then  they  found  that  the  old, 
leaky  scow  was  no  longer  on  the  strand.  And  now  they 
began  to  understand  how  it  had  all  come  about. 

The  farmer  and  his  helpers  immediately  took  out  the 
boats  and  went  in  search  of  the  boy.  They  rowed  around 
on  Takern  until  late  in  the  evening,  without  seeing  the 


least  shadow  of  him.  They  couldn't  help  believing  that 
the  old  scow  had  gone  down,  and  that  the  little  one  lay  dead 
at  the  bottom  of  the  lake. 

All  the  evening,  Per  Ola's  mother  hunted  round  on  the 
strand.  Every  one  else  was  convinced  that  the  boy  was 
drowned,  but  she  could  not  bring  herself  to  believe  that. 
She  searched  all  the  while.  She  searched  between  reeds 
and  bullrushes;  tramped  and  tramped  on  the  muddy  shore, 
never  thinking  of  how  deep  her  foot  sank,  or  how  wet  she 
had  become.  She  was  unspeakably  desperate.  Her  heart 
ached  in  her  breast.  She  did  not  weep,  but  wrung  her 
hands  and  called  for  her  child  in  loud  piercing  tones. 

Round  about  her  she  heard  swans'  and  ducks'  and  cur- 
lews' shrieks.  She  thought  that  they  followed  her,  and 
moaned  and  wailed  —  they  too.  "Surely,  they,  too,  must 
be  in  trouble,  since  they  moan  so. "  Then  she  remembered: 
these  were  only  birds  that  she  heard  complain.  They 
surely  had  no  worries. 

It  was  strange  that  they  did  not  quiet  down  after  sunset. 
She  heard  all  these  uncountable  bird-throngs  which  lived 
along  Takern  send  forth  cry  upon  cry.  Several  of  them 
followed  her  wherever  she  went;  others  came  rustling  past 
on  light  wings.  All  the  air  was  filled  with  moans  and 

But  the  anguish  which  she  herself  was  suffering  opened 
her  heart.  She  felt  that  she  was  not  so  far  removed  from 
all  other  living  creatures  as  people  usually  think.  She 
understood  better  than  ever  before,  how  birds  fared.  They 
had  their  constant  worries  for  home  and  children,  they,  as 
she.  There  was  certainly  not  such  a  great  difference  be- 
tween them  and  her  as  she  had  heretofore  believed. 

Then  she  happened  to  think  that  it  was  as  good  as  settled 


that  these  thousands  of  swans  and  ducks  and  loons  would 
lose  their  homes  here  by  Takern.  "It  will  be  very  hard  for 
them,"  she  thought.  'Where  shall  they  bring  up  their 
children  now?': 

She  paused  and  pondered :  It  appeared  to  be  an  excellent 
and  agreeable  accomplishment  to  change  a  lake  into  fields 
and  meadows,  but  let  it  be  some  other  lake  than  Takern; 
some  other  lake,  which  was  not  the  home  of  so  many 
thousand  creatures. 

She  remembered  how  on  the  following  day  the  proposition 
to  lower  the  lake  was  to  be  decided,  and  she  wondered  if  this 
was  why  her  little  son  had  been  lost  —  just  to-day. 

Was  it  God's  meaning  that  sorrow  should  come  to  open 
her  heart  —  just  to-day  —  before  it  was  too  late  to  avert 
the  cruel  act? 

She  walked  rapidly  up  to  the  house,  and  began  to  talk 
with  her  husband  about  this.  She  spoke  of  the  lake,  and 
of  the  birds,  and  said  that  she  believed  it  was  God's  judg- 
ment on  them  both.  She  soon  found  that  he  was  of  the 
same  opinion. 

They  already  owned  a  large  place,  but  if  the  lake-draining 
were  carried  into  effect,  such  a  goodly  portion  of  the  lake- 
bottom  would  fall  to  their  share  that  their  property  would 
be  nearly  doubled.  For  this  reason  they  had  been  more 
eager  for  the  undertaking  than  any  of  the  other  shore  owners. 
The  others  had  been  worried  about  expenses,  and  anxious 
lest  the  draining  should  not  prove  any  more  successful  this 
time  than  it  was  the  last.  Per  Ola's  father  knew  in  his 
heart  that  it  was  he  who  had  influenced  them  to  undertake 
the  work.  He  had  exercised  all  his  eloquence,  so  that  he 
might  leave  to  his  son  a  farm  as  large  again  as  his  father  had 
left  to  him. 


He  stood  and  wondered  if  God's  hand  was  back  of  the 
fact  that  Takern  had  taken  his  son  from  him  on  the  day 
before  he  was  to  have  drawn  up  the  contract  to  lay  it  waste. 
The  wife  didn't  have  to  say  many  words  to  him,  before  he 
answered:  "It  may  be  that  God  does  not  want  us  to  inter- 
fere with  His  order.  I'll  talk  with  the  others  about  this 
to-morrow,  and  I  think  we'll  decide  that  all  may  remain 
as  it  is. " 

While  the  farmer-folk  were  talking  this  over,  Caesar  lay 
before  the  fire.  He  raised  his  head  and  listened  very 
attentively.  When  he  thought  that  he  was  sure  of  the  out- 
come, he  walked  up  to  the  mistress,  took  her  by  the  skirt,  and 
led  her  to  the  door.  "But  Caesar!'3  said  she,  trying  to 
break  away  from  him,  "do  you  know  where  Per  Ola  is?" 
she  cried  out.  Caesar  barked  joyfully,  and  threw  himself 
against  the  door.  She  opened  it,  and  the  dog  dashed  down 
toward  Takern.  The  mistress  was  so  positive  that  he  knew 
where  Per  Ola  was  that  she  rushed  after  him.  And  no  sooner 
had  they  reached  the  shore  than  they  heard  a  child's  cry 
out  on  the  lake. 

Per  Ola  had  had  the  best  day  of  his  life,  in  company  with 
Thumbietot  and  the  birds;  but  now  he  had  begun  to  cry 
because  he  was  hungry  and  afraid  of  the  darkness.  And 
he  was  glad  when  father  and  mother  and  Caesar  came  for 



Friday,  April  twenty -second. 

ONE  night,  when  the  boy  lay  sleeping  on  an  island  in 
Takern,  he  was  awakened  by  oar-strokes.  He  had 
hardly  got  his  eyes  open  when  there  fell  such  a  dazzling 
light  on  them  that  it  made  him  blink. 

At  first  he  couldn't  make  out  what  it  was  that  shone  so 
brightly  out  here  on  the  lake;  but  soon  he  saw  that  a  scow, 
with  a  big  burning  torch  set  up  on  a  spike,  aft,  lay  near  the 
edge  of  the  reeds.  The  red  flame  from  the  torch  was  clearly 
reflected  in  the  night-dark  lake ;  and  the  brilliant  light  must 
have  tempted  the  fish,  for  in  the  water  were  seen  a  mass 
of  dark  specks  that  moved  continually,  and  changed  places. 

There  were  two  old  men  in  the  scow.  One  sat  at  the  oars, 
the  other  stood  on  a  bench  in  the  stern  and  held  in  his 
hand  a  short  spear, which  was  coarsely  barbed.  The  one  who 
rowed  was  apparently  a  poor  fisherman.  He  was  small, 
dried-up,  and  weather-beaten,  and  wore  a  thin,  threadbare 
coat.  It  was  plain  that  he  was  so  used  to  being  out  in  all 
sorts  of  weather  that  he  didn't  mind  the  cold.  The  other 
was  well  fed  and  well  dressed,  and  looked  like  a  prosperous 
and  self-complacent  farmer. 

"Stop  now!"  said  the  farmer,  when  they  were  opposite 
the  island  where  the  boy  lay.  At  the  same  time  he  plunged 



the  spear  into  the  water.  When  he  drew  it  out  again  a 
long,  fine  eel  came  with  it. 

"Look  at  that!"  he  said  as  he  released  the  eel  from  the 
spear.  'That  wasn't  a  bad  catch,  eh?  Now  we  have  so 
many  that  I  think  we  can  turn  back. ': 

His  comrade  did  not  lift  the  oars,  but  sat  looking  around. 
"It  is  lovely  out  here  on  the  lake  to-night,"  he  said.  And 
so  it  was.  The  water  was  perfectly  calm,  so  that  its  entire 
surface  lay  in  undisturbed  rest,  save  the  narrow  strips  where 
the  boat  had  gone  forward.  This  lay  like  a  path  of  gold, 
and  glittered  in  the  firelight.  The  sky  was  a  clear  deep 
blue,  and  thickly  studded  with  stars.  The  shores  were 
hidden  by  the  reed  islands  except  toward  the  west,  where 
Mount  Omberg  loomed  high  and  dark,  cutting  away  a  big, 
three-cornered  piece  of  the  domelike  sky. 

The  farmer  turned  his  head  to  get  the  light  out  of  his 
eyes,  then  looked  about  him.  "Yes,  it  is  lovely  here  in 
Ostergylln,"  said  he.  "Still  the  best  thing  about  the 
province  is  not  its  beauty. "  "Then  what  is  it  that's  best?  " 
-asked  the  oarsman.  'That  it  has  always  been  a  respected 
and  honoured  province.'1  "That  may  be  true  enough." 
"And  then  this,  that  one  knows  it  will  always  continue  to 
be  so. "  "But  how  in  the  world  can  one  know  that?"  said 
the  one  who  sat  at  the  oars. 

The  farmer  straightened  up  where  he  stood  and  braced 
himself  with  the  spear.  'There  is  an  old  legend  which  has 
been  handed  down  from  father  to  son  in  my  family;  and 
in  it  one  learns  what  will  happen  to  Ostergotland. "  "Then 
you  may  as  well  tell  it  to  me,"  said  the  oarsman.  "We  do 
not  tell  it  to  any  one  and  every  one,  but  I  don't  wish  to  keep 
it  a  secret  from  an  old  comrade. 

"At  Ulvasa,  here  in  Ostergotland,"  he  continued  (and 


one  could  tell  by  the  tone  of  his  voice  that  he  talked  of  some- 
thing which  he  had  heard  from  others,  and  knew  by  heart), 
"many,  many  years  ago,  there  lived  a  lady  who  had  the 
gift  of  looking  into  the  future,  and  telling  people  what  was 
going  to  happen  to  them  —  just  as  certainly  and  accurately 
as  though  it  had  already  occurred.  For  this  she  became 
widely  noted;  and  it  is  easy  to  understand  why  people  from 
both  far  and  near  came  to  her,  to  find  out  what  they 
were  to  pass  through  of  good  or  evil. 

"One  day,  when  Ulvasa-lady  sat  in  her  hall  and  spun,  as 
was  the  custom  in  former  days,  a  poor  peasant  came  into 
the  room  and  seated  himself  on  the  bench  near  the  door. 

"'I  wonder  what  you  are  sitting  and  thinking  about,  dear 
lady,'  said  the  peasant  after  a  little. 

"'I  am  sitting  and  thinking  about  high  and  holy  things,' 
she  answered.  "Then  it  is  not  fitting,  perhaps,  that  I  ask 
you  about  something  which  weighs  on  my  heart,'  said  the 

"'It  is  probably  nothing  else  that  weighs  on  your  heart 
than  that  you  may  reap  much  grain  on  your  field.  But 
I  am  accustomed  to  receive  communications  from  the 
Emperor,  as  to  how  it  will  go  with  his  crown;  and  from  the 
Pope,  as  to  how  it  will  go  with  his  keys.'  'Such  things 
cannot  be  easy  to  answer,'  said  the  peasant.  'I  have  heard 
also  that  no  one  goes  from  here  without  being  dissatisfied 
with  what  he  has  heard.5 

"When  the  peasant  said  that,  he  noticed  that  Ulvasa-lady 
bit  her  lip,  and  moved  farther  up  on  the  bench.  'So  this  is 
what  you  have  heard  of  me,'  she  said.  'Then  you  may  as 
well  tempt  fortune  by  asking  me  about  the  thing  you  wish 
to  know;  and  you  shall  see  whether  or  not  I  can  answer  so 
that  you  will  be  satisfied.* 


"After  this  the  peasant  did  not  hesitate  to  state  his  errand. 
He  said  that  he  had  come  to  ask  how  it  would  go  with 
Ostergotland  in  the  future.  There  was  nothing  which  was 
so  dear  to  him  as  his  native  province,  and  he  felt  that  he 
would  be  happy  until  his  dying  day  if  he  could  get  a  satis- 
factory reply  to  his  query. 

' Oh ! '  if  that  is  all  you  wish  to  know,'  said  the  wise  lady; 
'then  I  think  that  you  will  be  content.  For  here,  where  I 
now  sit,  I  can  tell  you  that  it  will  be  like  this  with  Oster- 
gotland: it  will  always  have  something  to  boast  of  ahead 
of  other  provinces.' 

'Yes,  that  was  a  good  answer,  dear  lady,'  said  the 
peasant/  and  I  should  now  be  entirely  at  peace  if  I  only  knew 
how  such  a  thing  could  be  possible.' 

"'Why  should  it  not  be  possible?'  said  Ulvasa-lady. 
'Don't  you  know  that  Ostergotland  is  already  renowned? 
Or  think  you  there  is  any  place  in  Sweden  that  can  boast  of 
possessing,  at  the  same  time,  two  such  cloisters  as  the  ones  in 
Alvastra  and  Vreta,  and  such  a  beautiful  cathedral  as  the 
one  at  Linkoping?' 

"'That  may  be  so,'  said  the  peasant.  'But  I'm  an  old 
man,  and  I  know  that  people's  minds  are  changeable.  I 
fear  that  there  will  come  a  time  when  they  won't  give  us 
any  glory,  for  either  Alvastra  or  Vreta,  or  even  for  the 

'Herein  you  may  be  right,'  said  Ulvasa-lady,  'but  you 
need  not  doubt  prophecy  on  that  account.  I  shall  now 
build  up  a  new  cloister  on  Vadstena,  and  this  will  become 
the  most  celebrated  in  the  North.  Thither  both  the  high 
and  the  lowly  shall  make  pilgrimages,  and  all  shall  sing  the 
praises  of  the  province  because  it  has  so  holy  a  place  within 
its  confines.' 


"The  peasant  replied  that  he  was  right  glad  to  know  this. 
But  he  also  knew,  of  course,  that  everything  was  perishable; 
and  he  wondered  much  what  would  give  distinction  to  the 
province,  if  Vadstena  Cloister  should  once  fall  into  dis- 

"'You  are  not  easy  to  satisfy,'  said  Ulvasa-lady,  'but 
surely  I  can  see  far  enough  ahead  to  tell  you  that  before 
Vadstena  Cloister  shall  have  lost  its  splendour  there  will 
be  a  castle  erected  close  by,  which  will  be  the  most  mag- 
nificent of  its  period.  Kings  and  dukes  will  be  guests 
there,  and  it  shall  be  accounted  an  honour  to  the  wThole  prov- 
ince that  it  owns  such  an  ornament." 

'"This  I  am  also  glad  to  hear,'  said  the  peasant.  'But 
I'm  an  old  man,  and  I  know  how  it  generally  turns  out  with 
this  world's  glories.  And  if  the  castle  goes  to  ruin,  I  wonder 
much  what  there  will  be  that  can  attract  the  people's  at- 
tention to  this  province?' 

"'It's  not  a  little  that  you  want  to  know/  said  Ulvasa- 
lady,  'but,  certainly,  I  can  look  far  enough  into  the  future 
to  see  that  there  will  be  life  and  movement  in  the  forests 
around  Finspang.  I  see  how  cabins  and  smithies  arise 
there,  and  I  believe  that  the  whole  province  shall  become 
renowned  because  iron  will  be  moulded  within  its  confines.' 

"The  peasant  didn't  deny  that  he  was  delighted  to  hear 
this.  'But  if  it  should  go  so  badly  that  even  Finspang's 
foundry  went  down  in  importance,  then  it  would  hardly  be 
possible  that  any  new  thing  could  arise  of  which  Oster- 
gotland  might  boast.' 

"'You  are  not  easy  to  please,'  said  Ulvasa-lady,  'but  I 
can  see  so  far  into  the  future  that  I  mark  how,  along  the  lake 
shores,  great  manors,  large  as  castles,  are  built  by  gentlemen 
who  have  carried  on  wars  in  foreign  lands.  I  believe  that 


the  manors  will  bring  the  province  just  as  much  honour  as 
anything  else  that  I  have  named.' 

'"But  if  there  comes  a  time  when  no  one  lauds  the  great 
manors?'  insisted  the  peasant. 

'You  need  not  be  uneasy  at  all  events,'  said  Ulvasa-lady. 
'I  see  how  health-springs  bubble  on  Medevi  meadows,  by 
Vattern's  shores.  I  believe  that  the  wells  at  Medevi  will 
bring  the  land  as  much  praise  as  you  can  desire.' 

'That  is  a  mighty  good  thing  to  know,'  said  the  peasant. 
'  But  if  there  comes  a  time  when  people  seek  their  health  at 
other  springs?' 

'You  must  not  give  yourself  any  anxiety  on  that 
account,'  answered  Ulvasa-lady.  '  I  see  how  people  dig  and 
labour,  from  Motala  to  Mem.  They  dig  a  canal  right 
through  the  country,  and  Ostergotland's  praise  is  again  on 
every  one's  lips.' 

"But,  nevertheless,  the  peasant  looked  distraught. 

'  I  see  that  the  rapids  in  Motala  stream  begin  to  draw 
wheels,'  said  Ulvasa-lady  —  and  now  two  bright  red  spots 
came  to  her  cheeks,  for  she  began  to  be  impatient  —  '  I  hear 
hammers  resound  in  Motala,  and  looms  clatter  in  Norr- 

'Yes,  that's  good  to  know,'  said  the  peasant,  'but  every- 
thing is  perishable,  and  I'm  afraid  that  even  this  can  be  for- 
gotten, and  go  into  oblivion.' 

'  When  the  peasant  was  not  satisfied  even  now,  there  was 
an  end  to  the  lady's  patience.  'You  say  that  everything  is 
perishable,'  said  she,  'but  now  I  shall  name  something  which 
will  always  be  like  itself;  and  that  is  that  such  arrogant  and 
pig-headed  peasants  as  you  will  always  be  found  in  this 
province  —  until  the  end  of  time.' 

"Hardly  had  Ulvasa-lady  finished  speaking  before  the 


peasant  rose  —  happy  and  gratified  —  and  thanked  her  for 
a  good  answer.     Now,  at  last,  he  was  satisfied,  he  said. 

'Then  said  Ulvasa-lady :     '  Verily,  I  understand  now  how 
you  look  at  it.' 

'Well,  I  look  at  it  in  this  way,  dear  lady,'  spoke  the 
peasant,  'that  everything  which  kings  and  priests  and 
noblemen  and  merchants  build  and  accomplish  can  endure 
only  for  a  few  years.  But  when  you  tell  me  that  in 
Ostergotland  there  will  always  be  peasants  who  are  honour- 
loving  and  persevering,  then  I  know  also  that  it  will  be  able 
to  preserve  its  ancient  glory.  For  it  is  only  those  who  go 
bent  under  the  eternal  labour  with  the  soil,  who  can  hold 
this  land  in  good  repute  and  honour  —  from  one  time  to 
another.' " 



Saturday,  April  twenty-third. 
boy  rode  forward  —  away  up  in  the  air.  He  had 
A  the  great  Ostergotland  plain  under  him,  and  he  sat  and 
counted  the  many  white  churches  which  towered  above  the 
small  leafy  groves  around  them.  It  wasn't  long  until  he 
had  counted  fifty.  After  that  he  became  confused  and 
lost  track  of  the  counting. 

Nearly  all  the  farms  were  built  up  with  large,  white- 
painted  two-story  houses,  which  looked  so  imposing  that 
the  boy  couldn't  help  admiring  them.  "There  can't  be 
any  peasants  in  this  land,"  he  said  to  himself,  "  since  I  do  not 
see  any  farms." 

Immediately  all  the  wild  geese  shrieked:  "Here  the 
peasants  live  like  gentlemen !  Here  the  peasants  live  like 

On  the  plains  the  ice  and  snow  had  disappeared  and  the 
spring  work  had  been  started.  "What  kind  of  long  crabs 
are  those  crawling  over  the  fields?'1  asked  the  boy. 
"Ploughs  and  oxen.  Ploughs  and  oxen,"  answered  the 
wild  geese. 

The  oxen  moved  so  slowly  down  on  the  fields,  that  one 
could  scarcely  perceive  they  were  in  motion,  and  the  geese 
shouted  to  them:  'You  won't  get  there  before  next  year! 
You  won't  get  there  before  next  year!"  But  the  oxen  were 
equal  to  the  occasion.  They  raised  their  muzzles  in  the 



air  and  bellowed:  'We  do  more  good  in  an  hour  than  such 
as  you  do  in  a  whole  lifetime." 

In  a  few  places  the  ploughs  were  drawn  by  horses.  They 
went  along  with  much  more  eagerness  and  haste  than  the 
oxen;  but  the  geese  couldn't  keep  from  teasing  these  either. 
" Aren't  you  ashamed  to  be  doing  ox-duty?"  they  cried. 
"Aren't  you  ashamed  yourselves  to  be  doing  lazy  man's 
duty?"  the  horses  neighed  back  at  them. 

But  while  horses  and  oxen  were  at  work  in  the  fields,  the 
stable  ram  walked  about  in  the  barnyard.  He  was  newly 
clipped  and  irritable;  he  knocked  over  the  small  boys, 
chased  the  shepherd  dog  into  his  kennel,  and  then  strutted 
about  as  though  he  alone  were  lord  of  the  whole  place. 
"Rammie,  Rammie,  what  have  you  done  with  your  wool?" 
asked  the  wild  geese,  who  rode  by  up  in  the  air.  'That  I 
have  sent  to  Drag's  woollen  mills  in  Norrkoping,"  replied 
the  ram  with  a  long,  drawnout  bleat.  "  Rammie,  Rammie, 
what  have  you  done  with  your  horns?"  asked  the  geese. 
But  any  horns  the  rammie  had  never  possessed,  to  his  sorrow, 
and  one  couldn't  offer  him  a  greater  insult  than  to  ask  after 
them.  He  ran  around  a  long  time,  and  butted  at  the  air, 
so  furious  was  he. 

Along  the  country  road  came  a  man  driving  a  herd  of 
Skane  pigs  that  were  not  more  than  a  few  weeks  old,  and 
were  to  be  sold  up  country.  They  trotted  along  bravely, 
little  as  they  were,  and  kept  close  together  —  as  if  seeking 
protection.  "  Nuff,  nuff,  nuff,  we  came  away  too  soon  from 
father  and  mother.  Nuff,  nuff,  nuff,  what  is  to  become  of  us 
poor  children,"  squealed  the  little  pigs.  The  wild  geese 
didn't  have  the  heart  to  tease  such  poor  little  creatures. 
"It  will  be  better  for  you  than  you  can  ever  believe,"  they 
cried  encouragingly,  as  they  flew  past  them. 

*  V  - 





S~~~7  *' 


~^'-£>                        ^P 


:DOWN    IX    THE    ROAD    STOOD    OSA,    THE    GOOSP>CIKL,    AND    II KK    BROTHER, 


The  wild  geese  were  never  so  merry  as  when  flying  over  a 
flat  country.  Then  they  did  not  hurry  themselves,  but 
flew  from  farm  to  farm,  and  joked  with  the  tame  animals. 

As  the  boy  rode  over  the  plain  he  happened  to  think  of  a 
legend  which  he  had  heard  a  long  time  ago.  He  didn't 
remember  it  exactly,  but  it  was  something  about  a  petti- 
coat, half  of  which  was  made  of  gold-woven  velvet,  and 
half  of  gray  homespun.  But  the  one  who  owned  the  petti- 
coat had  decorated  the  homespun  with  such  heaps  of 
pearls  and  precious  stones  that  it  looked  richer  and  more 
gorgeous  than  the  gold-cloth. 

He  remembered  this  about  the  homespun  as  he  looked 
down  on  Ostergotland,  because  it  was  made  up  of  a  large 
plain,  which  lay  wedged  in  between  two  mountainous  forest- 
tracts  • —  one  to  the  north,  the  other  to  the  south.  The 
two  forest-heights  lay  there,  a  lovely  blue,  and  shimmered  in 
the  morning  light,  as  if  bedecked  with  golden  veils;  and  the 
plain,  which  spread  out  one  winter-naked  field  after  an- 
other, was  in  and  of  itself  more  beautiful  than  the  gray  home- 

But  the  people  must  have  been  contented  on  the  plain, 
because  it  was  generous  and  kind,  and  they  had  tried  to 
decorate  it  in  the  best  possible  way.  High  up  —  where  the 
boy  rode  by  —  he  thought  that  cities  and  farms,  churches 
and  factories,  castles  and  railway  stations  were  scattered 
over  it,  like  large  and  small  trinkets.  The  roofs  and  the 
wTindow-panes  glittered  like  jewels.  Yellow  country  roads, 
shining  rail  way -tracks  and  blue  canals  ran  along  between 
the  districts,  like  embroidered  loops.  Linkoping  lay  around 
its  cathedral  like  a  pearl-setting  around  a  precious  stone; 
and  the  gardens  in  the  country  were  like  little  brooches  and 
buttons.  There  was  not  much  regulation  in  the  pattern, 


but  it  was  a  display  of  grandeur  of  which  one  might  never 

The  geese  had  left  Oberg  and  were  travelling  eastward 
along  Gota  Canal.  This  was  also  making  itself  ready  for 
the  summer.  Workmen  were  building  canal-banks,  and  tar- 
ring the  huge  lock-gates.  They  were  working  everywhere 
to  receive  spring  fittingly,  even  in  the  cities.  There,  masons 
and  painters  stood  on  scaffoldings  and  made  fine  the  exte- 
riors of  the  houses  while  maids  cleaned  the  windows.  Down 
at  the  harbour,  sailboats  and  steamers  were  being  washed 
and  dressed  up. 

At  Norrkoping  the  wild  geese  left  the  plain,  and  flew  up 
toward  Kolmarden.  For  a  time  they  had  been  following  an 
old  and  hilly  country  road,  which  wound  around  cliffs  and 
ran  forward  under  wild  mountain-walls  —  when  the  boy 
suddenly  let  out  a  shriek.  He  had  been  sitting  and  swinging 
his  foot  back  and  forth,  and  one  of  his  wooden  shoes  had 
slipped  off. 

"Goosey-gander,  goosey-gander,  I  have  dropped  my 
shoe!"  cried  the  boy.  The  goosey-gander  turned  about  and 
sank  toward  the  ground;  then  the  boy  saw  two  children 
walking  along  the  road,  one  of  whom  had  picked  up  his 
shoe.  "  Goosey-gander,  goosey-gander,"  screamed  the  boy 
excitedly,  "fly  upward  again!  It  is  too  late.  I  can't  get 
my  shoe  back  now." 

Down  on  the  road  stood  Osa,  the  goose-girl,  and  her 
brother,  little  Mats,  looking  at  a  tiny  wooden  shoe  that  had 
fallen  from  the  skies. 

Osa,  the  goose-girl,  stood  silent  a  long  while  —  puzzled 
over  the  find.  At  last  she  said,  slowly  and  thoughtfully: 
"Do  you  remember,  little  Mats, that  when  we  went  past  Ovid 
Cloister  we  heard  that  the  folks  in  a  farmyard  had  seen  an 


elf  who  was  dressed  in  leather  breeches,  and  had  wooden 
shoes  on  his  feet,  like  any  other  workingman?  And  do 
you  recollect  that  when  we  came  to  Vittskovle  a  girl  told 
us  that  she  had  seen  a  Goa-Nisse,  with  wooden  shoes,  who 
flew  away  on  the  back  of  a  goose?  And  when  we  ourselves 
came  home  to  our  cabin,  little  Mats,  we  saw  a  goblin  who 
was  dressed  in  the  same  way,  and  who  also  straddled  the 
back  of  a  goose  —  and  flew  away.  Maybe  it  was  the  same 
one  who  rode  along  on  his  goose  up  here  in  the  air  and 
dropped  his  wooden  shoe." 

"Yes,  it  must  have  been,"  said  little  Mats. 

They  turned  the  wooden  shoe  about  and  examined  it 
carefully  —  for  it  isn't  every  day  that  one  happens  across 
Goa-Nisse's  wooden  shoe  on  the  highway. 

"Wait,  wait,  little  Mats!"  said  Osa,  the  goose-girl, 
"There  is  something  written  on  one  side  of  it." 

"Why,  so  there  is!  but  they  are  such  tiny  letters." 

"  Let  me  see !  It  says  —  it  says :  '  Nils  Holgersson  from 
W.  Vemmenhog.'  That's  the  most  wonderful  thing  I've 
ever  heard!"  said  little  Mats. 

[Concluded  in  "  Further  Adventures  of  Nils."] 





The  final  e  is  sounded  in  Skane,  Sirle,  Gripe,  etc. 

The  a  in  Skane  and  Smaland  is  pronounced  like  o  in  ore. 

j  is  like  the  English  y.  Nuolja,  Oviksfjallen,  Sjangeli, 
Jarro,  etc.,  should  sound  as  if  they  were  spelled  like  this: 
Nuolya,  Oviksfyellen,  Shang-e-lee,  Yarro,  etc. 

g,  when  followed  by  e,  i,  y,  a,  o,  is  also  like  y.  Example 
Gota  is  pronounced  Yota. 

When  g  is  followed  by  a,  o,  u,  or  a,  it  is  hard,  as  in  go. 

k  in  Norrkoping,  Linkoping,  Kivik  (pronounced  Chee^ 
veek),  etc.,  is  like  ch  in  cheer. 

Jc  is  hard  when  it  precedes  a,  o,  u,  or  a.  Example,  Kaksiv 
Kolmi,  etc. 

a  is  pronounced  like  a  in  fare.     Example,  Fars. 

There  is  no  sound  in  the  English  language  which  corre* 
sponds  to  the  Swedish  o.  It  is  like  the  French  eu  in  jeu. 

Gripe  is  pronounced  Greep-e. 

In  Sirle,  the  first  syllable  has  the  same  sound  as  the  sir 
in  sirup. 

The  names  which  Miss  Lagerlb'f  has  given  to  the  animals 
are  descriptive. 

Smirre  Fox,  is  cunning  fox. 

Sirle  Squirrel,  is  graceful,  or  nimble  squirrel. 

Gripe  Otter,  means  grabbing  or  clutching  otter. 



Marten  gaskarl  (Morten  Goosey-gander)  is  a  pet  name 
for  a  tame  gander,  just  as  we  use  Dickie-bird  for  a  pet  bird. 

Fru  is  the  Swedish  for  Mrs.  This  title  is  usually  applied 
to  gentlewomen  only.  The  author  has  used  this  meaning 
of  "fru." 

A  Goa-Nisse  is  an  elf -king,  and  corresponds  to  the  English 
Puck  or  Robin  Goodfellow. 


. » 

Books  by 














Marbacka  is  the  name  of  the  home  of  the  Lagerlbfs. 
Selma  Lagerlof  has  written  of  it  in  her  autobio- 
graphy, the  idyllic  story  of  life  at  Marbacka,  told 
with  the  sensitiveness  to  beauty  and  the  charm  of 
style  which  won  for  for  her  the  Nobel  prize  for  litera- 
ture. The  London  Times  recognizes  Miss  Lagerlof 
as  "the  most  eminent  of  Swedish  writers";  and  the 
Yale  Record  characterizes  her  as  "the  most  beloved 
vromar*  in  Sweden." 

TH->  t*-j»rrt»  <vf  Vw».v  sm*'***'***.!  home  has  been  fittingly 
given  to  this  new  editior-  of  Selma  Lagerlof  's  books. 
Four  titles  are  pub);  .tied  in  the  Marbacka  Edition, 
vitli  others  to  fo'"  .w: 

THF       TOR'*    OF   GOSTA   REELING 

TF/     A|3&ar  «FUL  ADVENTURES   OF  NILS 



Upon  receipt  of  ten  cents   the   publishers  will 

send    an    illustrated    biographical    and    biblio- 

graphical booklet  on  Selma  Lagerlof  .